If you were my kid, I'd be proud.
February 2, 2011 5:18 PM   Subscribe

19-year-old's testimony goes viral. 19-year-old Zach Wahls talks about his family at the Iowa gay marriage hearing. He's well-spoken, polite and compelling. Iowa passed a resolution that will let voters decide. I have something in my eye.
posted by Kitteh (53 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
Great speech, so much restraint on Zach Wahls' part. He seems like the perfect candidate for helping conservative communities realize marriage equality is not the apocalypse they believe it is. Worst case scenario, Zach will be instrumental in repealing this disgusting resolution if it does pass.
posted by Corduroy at 5:27 PM on February 2, 2011


I got viralled with that this morning. Awesome simple calm speech.
And he's just nineteen? Good work, moms.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:29 PM on February 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


As an Iowan, I hereby apologize for that collection of misguided sociopaths who voted in favor of this bill.
There's something in my eye, too.
posted by drhydro at 5:30 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


drhydro: well, you do have Zach, so there's that.
posted by el io at 5:36 PM on February 2, 2011


Iowa passed a resolution that will let voters decide.

The house passed the resolution. The Democratic Senate won't be voting on the resolution. There is no chance of the Iowa constitution being amended until several more years of sky-not-falling-due-to-gay-marriage have elapsed, and even if it is amended, it will be governed by the same parts of the US Constitution that make California's Proposition 8 illegal (pending appeal).
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:39 PM on February 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm all for gay marriage, but don't you think it cheapens the word to apply "sociopath" as a label to the general group of people voting against gay marriage, many of which who are doing so based on sincere (if very ill-considered) religious convictions or could even be said to merely be representing the will of their constituents.
posted by gagglezoomer at 5:43 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jeff Angelo, a former GOP state senator who co-sponsored the last attempt to ban same-sex marriage, has changed his mind and alsotestified against the proposition:

"During my tenure in the Iowa Senate, I voted for an amendment similar to the one contemplated tonight and was lead sponsor for a similar Constitutional amendment just a few short years ago.

But I am here tonight to tell you that I have changed my position on this issue, and to urge a “no” vote on House Joint Resolution 6 and ask that this assembly continue to allow same-sex couples the ability to be joined in civil marriage...

...Each day, Iowans worship with, work with, live with, and love people who are gay. This debate centers around the devaluation of the lives of a select group of people. At its worst, we are being asked to believe that our gay friends and neighbors are involved in a nefarious agenda. The outcome of which, supposedly, is the unraveling of society itself.

My friends, Iowans are discomforted by this debate. We know it not to be true.

So let me return to my earlier theme of finding common ground within a contentious debate. We all are joined together tonight but our love of liberty. Free citizens are allowed to disagree and live their lives as they choose without fear of government reprisal as long as life and property are not threatened."

posted by the christopher hundreds at 5:47 PM on February 2, 2011 [29 favorites]


The house passed the resolution. The Democratic Senate won't be voting on the resolution.

Yes, this too. Even if the senate were to pass the resolution, both houses would again have to pass it in the next general assembly two years from now. Since the senate will not be voting, at the very least it's going to be something around six years until a referendum could take place. By then the US Supreme Court will likely have sorted the issue out, mooting any discrimination by popular acclaim.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 5:55 PM on February 2, 2011


This speech was awesome.
posted by kdar at 5:56 PM on February 2, 2011


Here's a link to the speech. Two thumbs up Zach!
posted by Daddy-O at 6:02 PM on February 2, 2011


God damn! What a speech, what a delivery. Not to mention the bravery of holding himself up as an example... Zach Wahls, you rock.
posted by Drexen at 6:17 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


don't you think it cheapens the word to apply "sociopath" as a label to the general group of people voting against gay marriage

You're right. Personality disorders are difficult, if not impossible, to treat. It's not fair to sociopaths to imply that they're as willfully hateful as the people we're talking about.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:20 PM on February 2, 2011 [28 favorites]


I first became aware of this kid when he asked a question of Tea Party representatives on the Iowa Public Radio show "The Connection." (He's at minute 37.) It's been almost a year, but I still remember it, because you could almost hear the Concerned Women for America lady's head spin.
posted by craichead at 6:20 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm all for gay marriage, but don't you think it cheapens the word to apply "sociopath" as a label to the general group of people voting against gay marriage

sociopath (noun):a person whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

I think it fits more than it doesn't.

Separate is inherently unequal.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:22 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


As an Iowan, I hereby apologize for that collection of misguided sociopaths who voted in favor of this bill.

Including our embarrassment of a Congressman, Rep. King.
posted by webhund at 6:28 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


But all that will go out of the window when one of his moms sleeps with Mark Ruffalo.
posted by jenlovesponies at 6:33 PM on February 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Rep. King who recently said that dumpster babies are unlikely to cross state lines (unless the dumpster is in another state from their birthplace), and therefore dumpster babies fall outside the Federal Government's remit to regulate interstate commerce, and therefore the health insurance mandate is illegal. I'm not kidding.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:35 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


FUUUUCK. Well-spoken.

On a personal level: watching that, the one thing that strikes me most (as a straight guy raised by straight parents), is how much incidental privilege to be "abnormal" I've been allotted by a heteronormative society. I didn't have to worry about being a student of an obviously-practical degree, being a sixth-generation citizen of the Republic, being a small-business-starter, being a regular churchgoer, or being any of the other signifiers of "Real American" that Zach references in the quick gloss over his life to date.

I think his speech is so moving to me because it highlights all the ways in which the freedom to go outside the bounds of normalcy are so easily granted to those our civilization deems "acceptable" through the framework of who we love. I find it incredibly sad that so much of the defense of his family involves the explicit evocation of his passability (and a STUNNINGLY effective evocation, for that matter), when my general belief is that we should all be granted the freedom to explore life in our own ways so long as they don't hurt anyone else.

At any rate: Zach, I'm sorry you even had to feel that you needed to hold yourself up as an example of functionality, man. Our nation should be focused on better things than a shitty second-guessing of your parents' sexuality.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:40 PM on February 2, 2011 [26 favorites]


A little known tidbit in this whole "amend the Iowa Constitution" debacle is that the Tea Baggers weren't able to muster enough support to cause an automatic constitutional convention this past November.

The Iowa constitution contains a renewal clause that comes up every 10 years. 2010 was one of those election cycles and they weren't able to pass that even with the massive blitz that they put on to oust 3 Iowa Supreme Court justices.* IMHO, the Iowa GOP was willing to let the social conservatives/Tea Baggers rally the base in order to get a "new"Republican Governor elected, but they weren't willing to risk all of the built-in financial/economic benefits in the current constitution, so the GOP never strongly supported the idea of a constitutional convention. Better to go through the made-for-TV soap opera of legislative hearings knowing that the Iowa Senate will kill any amendment resolution than risk the pocketbooks of entrenched GOP economic interests that a convention would put on the table.

* It's somewhat of a misnomer to say that a majority of Iowans voted to remove the 3 justices when you consider that in virtually every judicial retention vote in Iowa at every level (i.e., magistrate, district court, appellate court), in any given year, 25-30% of the votes cast are against retention. What that means is that single issue folks (like the no-gay marriage crowd) really only have to garner another 20-25% of the vote in order to get the magical 50% needed for ouster and claim a "majority."
posted by webhund at 6:43 PM on February 2, 2011


Yeah, yeah. Sociopaths. How can someone hear that testimony and have such a hard heart to vote for the amendment?
posted by notsnot at 6:46 PM on February 2, 2011


Simple: They never let anybody come between them and their principles.

That's one of their principles.
posted by perspicio at 8:00 PM on February 2, 2011


I have something in my eye.

Heh he heh heh.

Uh huh huh huh.

posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:26 PM on February 2, 2011


Why not 'let voters decide' by if they want to have gay wedding for themselves or not? No need for others to people get involved.

*sigh* the need of people to meddle needlessly in other ppl's lives.
posted by MrLint at 8:27 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow.
posted by wv kay in ga at 8:29 PM on February 2, 2011


Great, great job, but this kid's character will really be tested when "The Bachelor" and other reality TV comes a-calling.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 9:06 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I lived just down the hall from him last year in the dorms at UIowa. Great guy.
posted by LSK at 9:11 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it wrong that I really wanted to know what green-shirt-red-suspenders American Gothic guy in the background had to say? I wanted some authentic interaction out of that one.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:13 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


So is it possible to repeal hetero marriage using the same shenanigans as was used on prop 8?

If so...how?

Serious question.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:36 PM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have to say, I think the content of is character was absolutely influenced by the sexual orientation of his parents.
posted by rtha at 10:06 PM on February 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


But all that will go out of the window when one of his moms sleeps with Mark Ruffalo.
posted by jenlovesponies at 6:33 PM on February 2 [4 favorites +] [!]


Uh... wha? Dude! Spoiler Alert!!
posted by helmutdog at 10:18 PM on February 2, 2011


Brilliant speech.
posted by Xany at 10:37 PM on February 2, 2011


So is it possible to repeal hetero marriage using the same shenanigans as was used on prop 8?

If so...how?

Serious question.


Sort of, but not really. It's theoretically possible for a majority of California voters to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between two people of the same sex. But the thing is, the amendment would run into the same federal constitutional problems that Prop. 8 is currently facing. The only reason there's even a question about Prop. 8's constitutionality is because there are still significant portions of the legal community who think it's OK for the law to treat gay people differently from straight people.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:39 PM on February 2, 2011


I have to say, I think the content of is character was absolutely influenced by the sexual orientation of his parents.

I had the same initial reaction, and I was trying to figure out why he'd choose to close his speech with such an obvious falsehood. On reflection I think it's clear that his perspective on certain issues was influenced by the sexual orientation of his parents, but the content of his character was influenced by the character of his parents, and that's an important distinction to make.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:40 PM on February 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


My first instinct was that the speech felt rehearsed, not from the heart, but part and parcel of the circus sideshow that is American politics, even at state level.

But then I thought, y'know, for all of my and my family's problems, I've never had to go before a council or a senate or a judiciary and fight for its basic integrity as a family. I've never had to try to convince people that my parents deserve to be parents, or that my siblings are my siblings. But if I did have to do that, wouldn't I work day and night, tirelessly, to make sure my words were as polished and as poignant as they could be?

Yeah, I would. So I got past it and heard what he was saying. And what he was saying is as basic as any right granted by any American constitution: we are here, we are free, we are yours and you are ours. Once I got past the tone, I was able to hear the words.

I know this vote doesn't mean much and that it's a political formality. But this isn't a dry political issue, and I hope people like Zach are able to make it clear to people like me that it's not abstract, that your sons and daughters and neighbors deserve equal protection and that the usual grandstanding distracts from the main issue.

I'm as liberal or left of that as they come and it takes me work, so I'm not surprised when it takes other people work. I just hope that other people are willing to put in the work that is required to see what is genuinely righteous about their compatriots.
posted by Errant at 11:48 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to say, I think the content of is character was absolutely influenced by the sexual orientation of his parents.

How do you mean?
posted by creeky at 12:47 AM on February 3, 2011


Vive la differance!
posted by Vibrissae at 2:25 AM on February 3, 2011


don't you think it cheapens the word to apply "sociopath" as a label to the general group of people voting against gay marriage

Don't you think it cheapens the world to insist "we all know better than you all and so we're going to decide how you have to live" ?????

Believe whatever you went, but when it comes within a few inches of my nose, you're overstepping.
posted by Twang at 2:27 AM on February 3, 2011


bicyclefish: "Is it wrong that I really wanted to know what green-shirt-red-suspenders American Gothic guy in the background had to say? I wanted some authentic interaction out of that one"

And the german flag.

I was curious about him as well. I don't want to label him based on clothes, but it does seem like an odd choice.
posted by HFSH at 3:00 AM on February 3, 2011


Great speech and all but the first link is NSFW.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:05 AM on February 3, 2011


Great speech and all but the first link is NSFW.

If this is a joke, I don't get it. If you're being serious, then I really don't get it. I reloaded the page like 10 times and couldn't get anything questionable to load.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:52 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great speech and all but the first link is NSFW.

If you work for some crazy Christian Rights organisation, then maybe. But otherwise... Whuuu?

If adverts for well known dating sites (datingDirect, etc) are NSFW, then you should maybe avoid the internet totally whilst you're doing your job.
posted by seanyboy at 4:59 AM on February 3, 2011


many of which who are doing so based on sincere (if very ill-considered) religious convictions or could even be said to merely be representing the will of their constituents

Whenever someone rails against the electoral college, or complains about how representative democracy is inherently unnecessary or even unfair in this modern age of electronic voting (instead of direct representation), I am occasionally reminded of why, and this is why. We grant the elected individual power in the group's place specifically to combat the tyranny of the masses. So many of most important decisions in this country's history were made by brave men and women standing up against their electorate and saying, "You know, I've thought about it and you're on the wrong side of history on this one."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:01 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Excellent speech.
posted by bpdavis at 5:32 AM on February 3, 2011


Actually, when I turned off AdBlockPro on that page and reloaded, there was an ad for "gaydar.com" which showed two men in briefs curled up together. In some places that might be a bit too racy.

And this was a great speech.

What hit me then was that the video of the speech on that page then went to a clip from "The Golden Girls" where Sophia pretty much in a couple of sentence smacks down everyone who goes "i don't understand why gay people want marriage":

"Why did you marry George?"
"We loved each other. We wanted to make a lifetime committment, wanted everyone to know."
"That's what Doug and Clayton want. Everyone wants someone to grow old with, and shouldn't everyone have that chance?"

I remember seeing that for the first time, and going, "Well, you know, that makes sense."
posted by mephron at 5:48 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


How do you mean?

Being raised in a minority family can give one an insight into how the majority operates in a way that's not as easily accessible as being raised in a majority family. Being raised in family whose minority status could be hidden (because the social and legal consequences for not doing so can be huge) but isn't can teach a kid a lot about honesty, integrity, and courage.
posted by rtha at 6:24 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being raised in family whose minority status could be hidden (because the social and legal consequences for not doing so can be huge) but isn't can teach a kid a lot about honesty, integrity, and courage.

That's a dynamic that's woefully underappreciated, although it's been known forever - it's the concept of "honor amongst thieves". If you can't rely (or depend) on society to defend you, your character is all you have.

As Bob Dylan says in Absolutely Sweet Marie:
...But to live outside the law, you must be honest...
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:59 AM on February 3, 2011


My first instinct was that the speech felt rehearsed, not from the heart, but part and parcel of the circus sideshow that is American politics, even at state level.

Of course it's rehearsed. Even people who give powerpoint presentations at work to a room of flunkies rehearse.
posted by odinsdream at 9:06 AM on February 3, 2011


Did you read the rest of my comment or did you stop after the first line?
posted by Errant at 10:44 AM on February 3, 2011


I don't really like to curse in written form, but this video forces me to...

This kid fuckin rocks.
posted by moviehawk at 11:18 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


rtha: I have to say, I think the content of his character was absolutely influenced by the sexual orientation of his parents.
Balonious Assault: ... it's clear that his perspective on certain issues was influenced by the sexual orientation of his parents, but the content of his character was influenced by the character of his parents, and that's an important distinction to make.
Benny Andajetz: If you can't rely (or depend) on society to defend you, your character is all you have.

My sister and her partner are raising two girls (1 and 3) and I can see how they are taking special care to instill them with values that hetero parents might not prioritize. Right up there with playing fair, sharing, and saying "please/thank you," the girls need to understand that there are all kinds of of families and that it's not a bad thing if a kid has 2 moms/dads, a mom and dad, just one, or neither. This really should be something that all kids learn early but if a child isn't exposed to any non-traditional families it might not be something they'd be taught right up front.

I do believe my sister's sexual orientation has influenced her character to a degree because she is no longer just accountable to herself. Whereas in her younger (single) days she was confrontational and vocal about her values, now she represents a family and how she is personally perceived can affect the way her entire family is judged by society. For now, she just wants her children to be accepted for who they are; it will be a little while before they can stand on their own like Zach.

Right now, I believe that same-sex couples raising children, trying to integrate them into the mainstream, require an elevated amount of character and hopefully this is imparted on their children. It is deeply unfair, but their families are going to be heavily scrutinized by assholes just waiting for an excuse to label them failures. It will take a little while and require a disproportionate amount of effort, but some day same-sex couples will be allowed to raise their families just like hetero couples, meaning that their kids will be free to have narrow-minded, intolerant views with radical leanings and instead of blaming the "gay agenda," they'll just be labeled regular ol' assholes, same as every other.
posted by krippledkonscious at 3:38 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


in order to get a "new"Republican Governor elected,

Fucking Terry Brandstad. He was governor when I first moved there in 1986.

Also, what crazy did Sen. Chuck Grassley drink? When I was there he was the ultimate nerdy republican, forthright, and generally decent. I actually voted for him, the only Republican I've ever voted for.

Now he's nuts, pandering to the nutjobwingbase and saying stuff I can't believe I'm hearing.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:20 AM on February 4, 2011


Zach Wahls on what it feels like to be an instant celebrity, among other things.
And although I already had a tremendous amount of faith in our generation, the stories I’ve been told over the last five days, via Facebook, e-mail and in person, have renewed and even increased that optimism. It seems certain to me that within the next 30 to 40 years, we will realize national marriage equality and people will be judged not by the sexual relations they have with other consenting parties, but, indeed, by the content of their character.
posted by craichead at 7:17 AM on February 7, 2011


Zach was interviewed at the UI radio station yesterday. Also, at least one 80 year-old Iowan was inspired to share her journey to acceptance and love for her gay son and his partner.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 4:27 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older I can't breathe! If only there weren't so many...   |   McBain: The Movie Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments