Zach Wahls

November 30, 2011

I am Zach Wahls, the guy who defended my two moms before the IA legislature. AMA.

Hey everybody:

I'm actually a long time redditor, and it's been my distinct honor to watch you guys put me on the front page three times now, especially considering that none of my own posts have ever gotten anywhere near the front page.

There was an AMA just a couple days ago by an 18 year old who also had two moms, and I'm kind of apprehensive about whether or not this is going to be meaningfully different. But what the hell.

And because I know how much we all love imgur, proof:

And it reads "This backwards" because I tried to write "What's up Reddit?" but it was backwards when I took the picture.


EDIT: The book is tentatively called My Two Moms: Everything I Needed to Know About Gay Marriage I Learned in Boy Scouts Should be on shelves over the summer or in the early fall.

EDIT 2: For those of you whose questions won't get answered (there are a lot and I'm doing my best!) please simply enjoy this awesome stand up about homosexuality and gender:

EDIT 3: I made this video forever ago, but it's still relevant today:

Thank you, everyone.

Also, woah beard.

EDIT 4: 1:30 a.m. Central and I'm calling it a night. Thank you, all. I had a great time, and I hope you found my responses worthwhile. Back to my main account.


Props man! It takes some big cojones to stand in front of those politicians and say what you said. I respect you, a lot. Good stuff.

Thanks. It's crazy, because before all this happened, I'd never been an activist or anything. I volunteered for the Obama campaign because my then-girlfriend worked for them (Hipster Iowan: I support Obama before it was cool.) but didn't work to protect the Iowa Supreme Court Justices back in '10 or anything.

A constitutional amendment being introduced, combined with the fact that this was at the tail end of that string of suicides by gay and lesbian kids, was a huge wake up call. I was nervous at first, but once you realize that you're there to defend your family, you find your voice pretty quick.

EDIT: Because it seems to be a big deal "then-girlfriend" is actually accurate. I'm single at the moment.

The West High speech team has taught you well:)

Learned a lot from the swim team too, though.

Do you know who your biological father is? If so, what does he do? What are the biggest similarities between you two?

Yes and no, but mostly no.

My bio-mom (or "Tall Mom") used artificial insemination to get pregnant back in 1990 and worked with a sperm bank to do so. So we've got files containing his basic medical info, (height, weight, family history, etc.) as well as a basic info questionnaire he filled out.

As you might expect, we've got some things in common and some things not at all in common. Example: evidently golf was a huge part of his life. I've been to a driving range exactly once, although I did enjoy minigolf when I was younger. It also sounds like he is a lot slimmer than I am. (I'm right around 215, and he was only 180, despite being the same height.) Counter example: we were both swimmers in high school and both very entrepreneurial/business minded.

Do you watch lesbian porn?

Used to. Not so much any more. Don't think it's related to the fact that I've got lesbian parents though. I've got some guy friends who also have two moms and love lesbian porn.

so what kinds of porn are you interested in?

Don't have any favorite actresses or anything, but Amateur Allure was the first site I followed on a regular basis. I've got a things for tall brunettes. Was all about the Asians when I was younger, but seem to have moved on.

Can't believe I just said that.

EDIT: What the hell. My moms bought me a subscription to Playboy when I was 16 at my request. Only rule? They got first dibs.

You rang? 6' tall, brunette here.

relevant username.

A couple of questions for you: What type of engineering are you, and given your eloquence is there any particular reason why you went with engineering?

Has the exposure you've had significantly impacted your business?

Has there been any negative backlash for your speech? I see a lot of positive comments about it here on reddit, but I don't know if that's the norm.

Thanks for taking your time to do this. I know engineering classes are already busy, not to mention running your own business and giving presentations in your community.

Civil & Environmental Engineering. Yeah, well I've always loved science and been good at math. (Part of the gay agenda: making your kids do lots of flash cards and play lots of educational computer games.) I actually wasn't an engineering major when I got to the University of Iowa and was looking at a combined degree of environmental science and economics. But this was literally in the middle of the the recession and I realized that job security would be a good thing, and given my love of science and legos, engineering seemed like a good idea.

Positive effects, though largely marginal. I've actually had to hire a manager to take care of the day-to-day stuff because I now spend a lot of my time traveling for speaking engagements. I'm also working on a book--not my idea, believe me--about growing up with two moms, which is kind of business, but not related to the once I referenced in my testimony.

There has been negative backlash. In fact, the reaction in Iowa was not nearly so friendly. This was run by a very popular conservative talk radio host at the largest station in Iowa one week after the hearing. Opponents of marriage equality here occasionally mention me in speeches and I believe have tried to fundraise off of me. Most of it doesn't bother me, as I've got pretty thick skin after a couple years in debate, but I was really worried about my sister when everything blew up. Luckily, things have cooled off and she hasn't heard anything.

And actually, I withdrew from classes this semester to work on the book and give speeches. The next year is such a pivotal moment for LGBT rights, particularly here in Iowa, that I figured a year off was worth it. Still staying super busy, though.

Your speech was so well-versed. Extremely moving, so thanks! Did you practice before-hand? Think of it on the fly?

Is your sister also very successful, and just as charming?


I did practice beforehand. If you look carefully, you can actually see me set down my notes and start the timer on my ipod. That being said, what actually came out of my mouth was only about 70% of what was on the paper in front of me. More than "memorized," I knew what I wanted to say and had a couple lines locked away. The last line about the sexuality of my parents, for example, I knew was going to be my last line.

She's definitely successful, though we're fairly different. We both love history, comics, movies and ice cream, but she's waaay more artsy than me. She's an incredible drawer. I've actually linked some of her art earlier on my main Reddit account and r/trees seemed to like it. (Although we like everything.) She's a senior in high school now--I'm both proud and terrified--and trying to figure out college. Love her to death.

and if she is, can i meet her?

Negative. Not huge on letting my little sister meet random folks from the Internet.

Was your "Content of my character" line inspired from Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech?

It was indeed.

I'm sorry but I never heard of you until now, but I just googled you.

All I can say is:

Holy shit, how long did it take you to prepare that?

That is the most eloquent and well delivered shit I've ever heard in my entire lifetime.

Do you think you changed anyone's opinions? Because if they don't get it after watching you, I think there might be no more hope for humanity.

Haha, thanks man.

I went through three different drafts before I got to a set of themes/ideas I really liked. Whole process was about six hours. Practiced it to myself during the drive from Iowa City to Des Moines.

In some ways, though, I feel as though I had been preparing for that hearing my whole life. Dealing with my tall-mom's MS, Boy Scouts, being in speech and debate, etc. It all built up to that moment.

And from what I've been told, it's changed some minds. My favorite message thus far has been one I received from a guy just a few years older than me about to ship out to Afghanistan.

Verbatim: “man, i just watched your video on youtube. being from the south, the deep south, I have been raised ‘anti-gay.’ Pardon the slur. but that completely changed my view on the subject. Just amazing. Im leaving for the army in two weeks and was pretty upset about don’t ask don’t tell being repealed but again you changed my view on that. I just thought it would be nice for you to know you truley opened someones eyes. Thank you.”

Meeting Ellen DeGeneres was really cool, and she's a neat leady. Reading that message was better.

I...honestly, I don't have words...which is sad, because I'm an English teacher. But I've been sitting here with this blank box trying to figure out exactly what to say to you, should you eventually see this comment. So here are a bunch of words, probably not the right ones, but the ones that are coming to mind as I try to express what's in my heart.

You see, I'm not only a teacher (in Los Angeles, NOH8!), but I'm also a Gay-Straight Alliance sponsor. We watched your speech last year in our club. Many of us cried (ok, seriously, all of us cried). I've had so many students who have been abused, neglected, hated, feared, and kicked out of their homes for being LGBTQ. Or just for being. You moved us. Deeply.

As you can see from my username, I'm also a lesbian. In fact, I made this (my only) username to thank a woman who was pregnant and having a gay couple adopt her child. But now, and from this point forward, I'd like to dedicate this name to you. I'm crying as I type this because you have changed my life personally, especially once this video went viral. I know you didn't choose your parents, but you did choose to do and say what you did. And as someone who is a lesbian future-mom (and not too far into the future, either), I hope my children grow up as wonderfully as you did. None of my friends has grown children, yet, so I don't get to hear it first-hand that you will love us as you do once you grow up. And even though I know that's true, it's comforting to hear it straight from your mouth for the first time ever.

I mentioned to the other IAMA/AMA by the 18 year old raised by two lesbians that a male coworker told me that I should never have children with my (then) girlfriend because "How can women raise a man?" Thank you for showing the world that we can do a beautiful job because our gender is not what's important. And my single mother did a fabulous job with my brother.

I know I'm going to finish this and think of prolific, eloquent, deep things to say that will show you just how important this is to me, everyone over at r/actuallesbians (not to speak for us all, but I'm pretty sure they'd agree), my students (who would love to be raised by your two moms), my own mother (who is my biggest supporter), every lesbian on my facebook page (so, at least half of my friends) who is posting your video today (again, most of them), and the people whose minds and hearts you've changed, but for now, all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I've always been lucky enough to be a Thankful_Lez, but today I've felt extra loved, especially reading the responses people are writing to you. What hope you've given me and countless others for the future. What hope the Redditors who have responded have given me. I hope for the day when what you did and said will be unremarkable, but for now, it is the opposite.

So I'll probably hit "save" now, and maybe go back and edit this, or read it and go "wow, that's a lot of incoherent rambling," but in this first post, I'll end with this: I will remember you and remember this video forever. And I will think of you, however briefly, some moment in the future when I have my children (biological, hopefully, and adopted), and how you (and countless others) fought so bravely for us to be recognized as the loving family we've become. I hope that communicates the magnitude of your words and actions.

Thank you, again.

(Yep, EDITed for grammar and inclusion of my awesome (formerly) single mom.)

This made me smile.

Thank you.

I was raised fundie Christian, so up until a few years ago your parents were evil horrible people that were destined to burn in hell for all eternity. That has all been changing over the last few years, and your video brought me to tears. Tears of joy, and shame. I am truly sorry for judging your family with such a closed mind, and without trying to find out who you really were. I am no longer that person, please pass my apology on to your family, I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.

No need to apologize, man. My grandma on short-mom's side is an 82-year old Polish-Catholic woman who refused to come to the wedding (Not just civil unions! Iowa represent.) in 2009. You've got to meet people where they are.

And I really don't hold anyone's religious beliefs against them, so long as they don't cause them to harm anyone. It'd be hard, but I like to think I'd break bread with Fred Phelps if he came a'knockin.

How did you address your mothers growing up? Did you call them by name? Obviously you just can't yell out mom. :P

Good question. First off, I'll point out that it's different for every single kid. For me, my biological mom had me and then my sister when she was single and didn't meet Jackie (short-mom) until I was five. So by that point, Terry (tall-mom) was already, "Mom," and Jackie was "Jackie."

Interestingly over the last nine months as I've talked about them more and more in public, and I've had to refer to them as "Terry" and "Jackie" to keep them separate, I've actually found myself referring to Terry by her first name. Jackie's was super confused the first time I got home from a trip and asked if Terry was in.


Yeah, I know he's an asshat and a blowhard, but this is a free country, and we've all got our rights.

I was actually glad that he won his supreme court case over the summer. Wrote about said case here.

I was wondering how you differentiated between your moms verbally, but I never would have thought of "short-mom". You win, sir, you win.

Well, it was kind of an adaptation of "step-mom" but it worked because she's only 5'4" and Terry is like 5'10" and I'm 6'6"

I sent my Dad your video. We're Canadian so the gay marriage thing is NBD up here.

He isn't religious and is normally a very down to earth guy who, for whatever reason, doesn't think gay people should raise children. He has no problem with gay people themselves, or gay marriage. His issue is specifically when children get involved.

Arguments usually go something like this: "If you're gay and choose to get married, that's fine, go right ahead. But a child can't choose to grow up in a gay household and it isn't fair to force that life on them. Because gay people can't create children on their own, society has input" I try to stress the, "But if a child is growing up in a household with two parents that love them (and each other) how can that be a bad thing?" To which he argues, "If I child could choose to be raised by two gay people that is different, but babies and young children can't make that informed decision." I think it's ignorant to have that opinion; however, I (in theory) support that we're all entitled to our own opinions. In this case, I'm also entitled to try and change his opinion because he is old and wrong.

Thanks for ammunition in my battle for him to realize we're all just people.


Interestingly, my biomom had severe scarring on her fallopian tubes--or something like that--so she wouldn't have been able to get pregnant the "natural" way even if she were straight and married to a man without the use of some reproductive technology.

You might also point out that gay people have been raising children literally since the beginning of our species. It's not like homosexuality was created during the sixties by free love and weed. It's just that now, in some parts of the world, gays can raise kids in a loving relationship with another gay person.

As someone who's 6"4, fuck questions about basketball. ಠ_ಠ

As someone who's 6'6, I concur.

Glad you could find a decent looking suit. I am 6'6'' as well, and it is always a pain to find cloths.

Actually got my suit from Indochino. It's an online store that's definitely worth checking out. Give it a go.

I work in a family business (medium sized about 100 employees) where my father is the President. I call him by his first name because it makes sense. I don't want to be the only person there referring to him as Dad. That would just be weird. Now that's what I call him 90% of the time. I feel you man.


I like the way you say "biomom"... it's like something out of a cyberpunk novel :P

Haha, I actually kind of had that thought myself...

I saw your speech several months ago when it first became viral on the internet and I was incredibly impressed by the power, and most of all the simplicity of it. I was wondering how the people in your church view the fact that your parents are gay? Do they have any problems with it or does your family belong to a more open church such as the universal Life Church?

Yeah, we're practicing Unitarian Universalists, actually. Lifelong, in my case. My moms actually met at a UU coffee house.

If you're wondering what the hell Unitarian Universalism is, if you'll recall in the Office when Angela thinks the office is cursed, she thinks it's cursed because Phyllis's husband Bob Vance, of Vance Refrigeration, is a Unitarian.

tl;dr: respect others.

Wikipedia article:

Jesus, every comment I read from you gets better! You're a UU too?! Winning. I love UU's and am not technically a "practicing" UU because I don't attend service much, but it's wonderful. My daughter's godfather is very active in his church. I feel like being UU isn't even having religion so much as a life stance. Would you agree with that?

For some people, that's probably accurate. I do consider it a religion, though, and I consider myself a religious person.

Happy reddit birthday!

I didn't even know what Unitarian Universalism was until I read this post and started researching. I wasn't raised religiously (we celebrate Christmas as a social holiday) and since being on the front steps of adulthood (I am also 19) I've been curious to "define" my beliefs. I've considered myself an optimistic existentialist as I believe you make your own purpose in the world but with keeping a strong emphasis on helping your fellow man.
But this UU would give a place of community that I've felt has been lacking. I am definitely going to check out a UU church in my city. Thank you good sir for broadening my horizons in an unexpected way.

My pleasure. It's a great community and one I'm proud to call home.

It sounds as though you are very liberal-minded, but you also show a strong interest in business. As an entrepreneur, would you consider yourself socially liberal, yet fiscally conservative?

Yes and no.

When it comes to the government's role in economics, I'm of the opinion that the government is important. Internet, space travel, and lots of other really great things have come out of government intervention in the marketplace. But there's a limit, too, between investing in crazy ideas for the greater good and centralized planning.

I find myself often agreeing with Washington Post reporter/blogger Ezra Klein when it comes to practical matters of domestic economic policy and the Economist blogger Will Wilkinson when it comes to political/economic theory.

Socially, I'm actually in pretty much the mainstream of our generation. I support reasonable, but not excessive, gun control. I support the legalization, at both state and federal levels, of same-sex marriage and cannabis. I'm still not sure how I feel about abortion. I think the DREAM Act is probably a good idea. I think the PATRIOT Act should be re-evaluated. I support the idea of Net Neutrality, though I'm not sure of the best way to secure it.

I'll vote to re-elect President Obama in 2012, barring any major, unforeseen developments. I am seriously considering voting for Jon Huntsman in the Iowa GOP primary, though.

I take it you're registered Republican then?

No, registered Dem, currently. But switching parties is really easy in Iowa. You could say I'm Jon-curious, though.

What is "reasonable" gun control? Agree on other issues except net neutrality.

I support the ban on assault weapons, but not one on hand guns, for example. I'd probably have to give this a lot more thought before I took a solid position on it.

And with the net neutrality thing, I think that the Internet should be open and free, but I don't think I trust the government to do it. Especially after SOPA. Hence, I like the idea, but I'm still open to new ideas about how to secure said free Internet.

Care to go more into your thoughts on abortion? Seems like most people your age and political persuasion would be very heavily pro-choice.

That's what you might think. I won't get too far into it because I'm just not sure how I feel. On the one hand, I don't like the idea of "aborting" a human fetus. On the other hand, I don't think that laws should be put in to place to make sure that every single fertilized embryo becomes a baby. Egad, complicated!

Sorry to hijack the discussion. I'm not trying to force you to make up/change your mind, but something to think about:

I don't think that laws should be put in to place to make sure that every single fertilized embryo becomes a baby

Isn't that pretty much the definition of "pro-choice" then? Pro-choice != pro-abortion; many women could never see themselves personally getting an abortion, but they recognize that other women may have their reasons for making that decision, and don't believe it's their business to tell them what to do with their bodies. There are some pro-choice proponents who aren't against some regulation either (e.g. early vs. late-term abortions) - they just don't want absolute prohibitions put in place. Many people feel the goal should always be fewer abortions - but that is better achieved with comprehensive sex education, health care changes, economic changes, etc., rather than prohibitory laws, which just drives the practice underground.

First off I'm a fellow Firefly enthusiast.

Second, Probably. I'm not sure. I'd identify as pro-choice if it came down to picking a label, but like I said, it's just something I'm uncomfortable with.

Many people feel the goal should always be fewer abortions - but that is better achieved with comprehensive sex education, health care changes, economic changes, etc., rather than prohibitory laws, which just drives the practice underground.

Agree 100% with that, though.

Whoa whoa whoa. discriminating against a small portion of US citizens - not cool.

Wars without end, bombing children, letting torturers walk free, criminalizing a large portion of US citizens (pot smokers) - Totes voting for it again!?

WTF dude?

Yeah, I'm not a fan or supporter of any of those things, but at the end of the day, politics is a game of pragmatism, and having met President Obama in person, I do believe that he has much better intentions than either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, who collectively share about an 80% chance of being the GOP nominee.

Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, who collectively share about an 80% chance of being the GOP nominee.

What about Ron Paul? I think he's way more electable than a former Democrat or a slimy, adulterous healthcare legislation profiteer.

How can you just ignore him? Or have you been filled up with "delicious veal"?

I'm not ignoring him. In fact, I've met him and think he's a great guy. I disagree with him on a number of issues, but there's no doubting his integrity or principles. He just won't get the nomination. You might like to think he will, but he won't. And above all else, I'm a pragmatist. Might not get me upvotes on Reddit, but I think Obama will end the wars quicker than Mitt or Newt, who, like I said, are more than 85% likely to get the GOP nomination. Ron Paul is down at 4.6%. I want the wars to end just as badly as you do, but I'm acknowledging reality in my candidate selection.

I'm still not sure how I feel about abortion.

Would you support legislation to restrict access to or ban abortion?

I don't think so. To be entirely honest, though, I'm not sure if that would stay the same if I had an SO ever have an abortion. I feel like that could definitely be a perception-changing experience.

He is an Eagle Scout.

I am indeed. Means more to me than my high school diploma.

Do you have any political aspirations? Because if so I would vote for you.

I'm not sure. I'd actually much rather work for a politician I really, really believed in than be a politician myself. Part of me finds politics really interesting, in so far as it's quite possibly the most complex--and most important--game in the world. And as an SC2 enthusiast, I'm a sucker for strategy games.

Over the last nine months, I've had a small taste of what it's like to have your life put under a microscope, and I don't like it. I can't imagine being a politician, especially a state level or higher, and having to live your life in constant scrutiny. I had plenty of scrutiny from skeptical folks when I was growing up. I'm hoping I can escape that at some point.

He's also an engineer, we really do need people in congress who can understand whats actually going on in the world.

Engineering student. But I definitely agree with that last part. Moreover, though, I think we need a populace that is engaged enough with the world to be able to know when their congressperson doesn't understand what's actually going on in the world.

So Mr. Wahls... what race do you play? ;)

I'm a Terran player in 1v1. Used to play random in 4v4, but started getting my shit rocked when I'd spawn Toss once I hit diamond, so now it's almost all Terran, all the time.

I could tell you were an SC2 enthusiast. We're usually quite eloquent ;D

What race do you play bro? I'm guessing Terran?

Nailed it. And now I'm wondering how you knew...

From a fellow Eagle Scout, you're a role model to all of us. Btw, what was your project?

Scouting for Books. Think Scouting for Food, but for books. Collected ~5,000 for the local VA, local hospital and my school district.

The Boy Scouts tend to have an anti-gay stance being a religiously backed organization. Does that bother you? Has it ever affected you at all?

Edit: typo

Yes and no.

I don't have a problem with religion--I'm a fairly religious guy myself. The anti-gay thing is a result of the fact that the BSA receives a lot of money from Mormon organizations.

My moms were never controversial, in no small part, I'm sure, due to the fact that they're both women, so it never had a huge impact on my life. The policy needs to change, though, and I'm hoping that the book I'm working on will do something to facilitate that change.

I was wondering this myself, hope he replies to you.

(sorry for the rather pointless comment)

And I replied!

Fellow open minded Eagle Scout jumping in. Mind if I ask what your project was?

I did a project I called Scouting for Books. Think Scouting for Food, but collecting books. Wound up collecting around 5k of them. Great experience.

Do people jump to conclusions after finding out you have to mothers? Meaning do they think he must be gay or his childhood was one big ball of gender role confusion. I want to word this to sound slightly more intelligent but I'm not slightly intelligent so I hope you get my point.

This is interesting. As I pointed out in my testimony, nobody has ever been like "OH! You!! You have gay parents!" out of the blue.

But now when people meet me and the sexual orientation of my moms has preceded me, I have been asked if I'm gay. But usually, people get to know me before it comes up that I've got gay moms, seeing as I don't walk around introducing myself as the kid with two moms, and most folks figure out that I'm straight pretty quick.

Damn dude that speech nearly brought me to tears. Very impressed, we need more people like you that are willing to stand up for what they believe in (and that do it so damn well). Couple questions:

Have you heard any comments (positive or negative) from the legislators that voted to pass the proposal? Were you able to change any of the voters minds?

Also, are you sure you want to be an engineer? Seems that your skill set may be better used in politics or as an advocate.


There were some comments from legislators. It was cited by pro-gay marriage lawmakers the next morning during open debate on the house floor. The Chairman I addressed when I said, "If I was your son Mr. Chairman," got up and said that gay couples can't reproduce and that it's the fact that a straight couple can, his words, "accidentally" reproduce that entitles them to being qualified for marriage.

And, no, I'm not sure. I switched my major from economics and environmental engineering because a) I love legos and b) wanted job security. I'm still pretty focused on going into a field somewhere in environmental engineering, though whether I do so as an actual engineer is up in the air.

And I've spend the last nine months or so advocating and speaking and writing and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. In some ways, though, I've been doing it all my life and am definitely looking forward to my existence being non-political, which, in many parts of the country, it still is.

Legos? Have you tried Minecraft? ;)

Join us... join us...!

I've heard that minecraft is like legos for adults, but haven't tried it yet. Afraid it's going to be waaay too addicting.

fffuuuu the plural of Lego is Lego!

Is it really? I know "Lego" is Danish, but I didn't realize that was the case.

Lego is danish, and techincally it'd be LEGO.

But as it's a brand name and not an actual object, LEGO bricks is technically the correct pluralization, but you can say LEGO.

They released a whole article on the proper pluralization of it.

Haha, LEGO ftw.

how do you think having two mothers HAS affected you. you talked a lot about how you are the same as everyone else, but do you think there are any major(or minor) differences?

Yeah, definitely. There's no doubt that having two mothers has affected me, and in large ways, but there are other things that make my family different that I think are much more important. My tall-mom being diagnosed with MS when I was nine is probably the single most impactful "trait" of my family.

And over the last nine months, I've figured out that when most people ask about growing up with two moms, they're actually asking about what it's like growing up without a father.

I had to learn how to shave from my best friend's dad. It's something I was briefly bullied about when I was growing up. It made me aware of the whole gay marriage debate--and the effects it might have on my family--from a young age.

But my moms were fairly strict with me and my sister growing up. They always had to know where I was, I didn't get to go to parties, etc. And having to deal with Terry's MS aged me quickly. I had way more responsibilities than most kids my age in making our family function and that level of responsibility is... aging?

I also had to deal with the reality that there are a good number of people out there who literally think I shouldn't exist and that my family isn't legitimate. (True story, the newspaper of my hometown refused to publish my birth announcement because, and I quote, "We don't do illegitimate children.") That'll make a difference in your life and will force you to question yourself and your family, no matter what your parents say.

The Press-Citizen said that? Wow that shocks me considering the climate in I.C. now a days. Course this was what, 19-20 years ago? I guess a lot can change.

I was actually born in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Relocated to Iowa when I was nine. (I consider myself an Iowan, though.) So that newspaper was a much more conservative one than the PC.


True story, they actually wrote a feature length article when I spoke at the high school. My moms loved the irony.

Gonna jump in here concerning Terry's talk on diet and MS. My uncle has primary progressive MS and has been suffering with it for about 15 years. He's completely disabled - he walks with a zimmer frame very short distances with my aunt's help, can't go out often because it exhausts him, he stays in his chair most of the time at the TV or computer, and he cannot use one of his hands for loss of feeling. He is extremely obese due to his inability to move and regularly has physiotherapy, which helps for a time.

Does this diet work for primary progressive or would I be offending my aunt, his primary caregiver, by showing it to her?

EDIT: Looking on the MS Society's website (a charity my aunt and uncle were very active in) and it seems that nobody has deemed to mention the diet, or if they have, it has been deleted by moderators... have you any iea why that may be?

It does work for primary progressive. MS Society is a great organization, but it's hesitant to think outside the box, and my mom's work isn't just outside the box, it's in a whole different dimension. Check out her website, for a whole bunch of info. She's doing a study right now and all the patients have displayed extraordinarily positive response to her interventions.

How often do you procrastinate?

Way more than I should. I'm a diamond SC2 player and love me my xbox 360. And certain other recreational... activities.

hey man! what small business do you own, and how did the rest of the hearing play out? did anyone respond negatively to what you had to say? thanks, and good for you. anytime this video surfaces, i always take time to watch it because your testimony is just so beautifully spoken

Iowa City Learns. It's a peer tutoring company. You can check out our website here.

Rest of the hearing was intense. I spoke 4th overall out of probably right around 40 speakers. You can check out my counterpart on the other side:

Might sound a little fire-and-brimestoney, but he's a super nice kid, actually. We've got a mutual friend who's way more chill.

EDIT: Funny part is that he was actually sitting on our side. He went back to sit down and all the women he was sitting next to were just staring at him with their mouths open.

Listen to what he said, he clearly is an idiot.

Related serious question: If God is perfect and hates homosexuals, why did he create them?

Related serious answer: To them, He didn't. Being gay is a choice.

No, seriously, they actually think that.

Part of it, I think, is the failure to grasp the subtle difference between action--which is a choice--and attraction, which is not a choice. For anyone.

Um, this guy's aware that our government is not a theocracy right? His ENTIRE argument is based on religion...... Last time I checked you don't have to be Christian to serve in government. Hell, I grew up Catholic (now atheist) and I'm pretty offended right now.

A lot of people don't realize that, actually. Sad. But true.

To a lot of folks the First Amendment doesn't protect freedom of religion, it protects the freedom to be a Christian.

I know from your speech you're a church goer, but...

1) Church and state...separate? His entire speech is a sermon.

2) I forget where I saw it, but somebody argued pretty much all of the things he's quoting with other stuff from the bible which was blatantly ridiculous and would never fly today under any circumstances.

Oh, I didn't think it was an effective speech or that he made a good argument. Not at all. It's just that despite saying some stupid stuff, he's still a person and actually a fairly nice dude. Which you probably wouldn't expect after the whole "put to death" line...

Were those people walking out of not wanting to hear his speech or was that just a coincidence? A little heavy on religion

Nah, they work for the Iowa House. They're essentially ushers.

What do you think of my (very long) post here?

Saw that, actually, when I was flipping through the comments.

I'll say this.

My moms are both "hard-working, loving, medical professionals" before they are "lesbians." The key word in the phrase, "gay person" is "person." Who my moms are is so, so much more than their respective sexualities. As I've mentioned elsewhere, my biomom's multiple scerlosis was, I think, a way bigger impact on my life than the fact that she was gay.

Was there some undetectable effect that I'm aware of? That's certainly a possibility. But to this point, I've been unable to detect it if it exists, and everybody I've ever met has been unable to detect it as well.

Wow I actually didn't expect a response. Thank you for replying. And I do think your speech was extremely well said. And you seem and sound like a bright intelligent young man. I guess I wasn't asking if you did some soul searching would you realize if there were any effects that you had in your personal experience, but rather are there issues that we are ignoring about us humans as a species and does the presence of both a male and female presence serving as a parental role vs same sex parents potentially have any impact on us.

I can't shake the feeling that I believe it does, although probably in very subtle things that would be very difficult to measure or for one to even realize. That's why I started with 'He can't actually say that can he? How would he know?' But even if I am wrong, I feel it is never mentioned at all anywhere. Instead people start the bible thumping which reeks of ignorance.

But I'm starting to get long-winded as I do. Thanks again for your reply.

Yeah, no worries. I'll say this. Although you might see some absence--and I am certainly capable of acknowledging the reality that I don't have a dad--I can't feel an absence. Whatever gap or hole exists was filled seamlessly by the love of my family and friends.

You must have a huge cock! And you're a great speaker!

Hah. I read through that AMA and saw that comment and was very tempted to respond. Managed to contain myself, though.

Hi, Zach! I'm sure you're used to hearing this by now, but your speech was truly inspirational. Thank you for speaking up for equality; we need more people like you in the US.

My question is: Have your friends always been supportive of you and your family? Or have any of your relationships suffered or ended over your family's structure?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

Literally all but one. When I was in the first grade, my moms got a call that John wouldn't be coming over to play any more, but even that wasn't John's idea. It was his parents making that decision for him. John thought that I had two moms was awesome.

Hey man you're a great public speaker, especially for your age. Did you do forensics in high school?

I did indeed! Duo, DI, OO and Public Forum Debate. Joined my junior year and placed 12th that year at nationals in Duo and then 8th my senior year. Won a state title doing PF my senior year, as well.

My best friend has two mothers, one is mommy and the other is mother dearest. What do you call your mothers?

While I was watching that video, I saw a lot of people smile and nod in the background. Do you think what you said made an impact(it certainly moved me)?

Are you religious in any way?

What do you think the LGBTQ community's greatest or mot influential opponent is?

And as a shits and giggles question, what's your favorite dinosaur?

All about the triceratops, although I was really sad to see in TIL today that the brontosaurus never actually existed.

Good question about the LGBTQ community's greatest opponent. I'm not really sure. There's no single person who could claim that mantle. And not to get super-meta or anything, but probably just ignorance. Nearly all people who are opposed to gay marriage don't even know a single gay person, let alone a married gay couple.

I forget where I read this, but as soon as somebody has a close friend or family member who is openly gay, the odds of that person increasing same-sex marriage increase by 400% He or she is literally four times more likely to support it. That's a crazy number.

I am religious. I'm a lifelong Unitarian Universalist and served on our congregations search committee for a new minister when I was 18. The tl;dr version of UUism is: respect the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Wikipedia it for more info.

And yeah, I think it's made a small impact here in Iowa, and after Reddit (and the rest of the Internet) got hold of the video back in February, I think it's had a pretty big impact across the country, even if only in the lives of a relatively small number of people. It's both crazy empowering and ridiculously humbling.

And "Mom" or "Terry" and "Jackie". More to do with the fact that Terry was single when she gave birth to my sister and me, and that I met Jackie when I was five, then anything else.

.. how long before you're on the Daily Show?

When this blew up back in February, I started saying that I had two big goals. 1) Get on the Daily Show. 2) Meet Emma Watson.

For some reason, people thought I was joking.

Tongue in cheek. But seriously.

Tongue in cheek.

I assume this means your tongue in Emma's cheek?

A guy can dream.

.. how long before you're on the Daily Show?

Believe me, I wish I could say it was imminent, but unfortunately that's not the case.

I caught this video when it was first posted. (You are awesome.) Why is it getting a second surge now? While this message deserves to be continually supported, I know the recent "It's Time" video has to do with upcoming policy changes in Australia... just curious if something specific is afoot in the US right now.

As best I can tell, this morning, MoveOn, a major liberal activist group, blasted it out to around 5,000,000 people and put it on its front page. But I'm not positive. I was just writing this afternoon when my inbox started to slowly fill up. And it just kind of blew up again.

tl;dr: The Internets are weird.

Did you ever participate in any debate competitions or public speaking competitions when you were growing up? Your speech in front of the legislator is something I have used in my public speech classes to show the right way to voice opinions on controversial subjects and many of my students really enjoy it. Thanks for all your hard work! Cheers!

Yup! I actually won a state championship doing public forum debate when I was a senior in high school.

Will you be sticking to this reddit name or switching back to your usual one?

Switching back to the old one. Definitely.

Congratulations man, that was a hell of a speech. I love debate/talks and I think I'm good at it, IMO that was better than a holywood ending scene including epic soundtrack! High five for being a fellow engineering student! In 2009 egalitarian marriage became legal in Argentina, which I'm really proud of , sadly a lot of lies where spread through media before the law was passed, I wish you could have said that here! Q: what branch of ingeeniring are you studying?

Haha, thanks! It was kind of prepared, kind of improvised but (cue sappy music) all from the heart.

Seriously though, I was nervous as hell at first, but once it sunk in that I was there to defend my family the rest just fell into place.

A: Civil & Environmental

I just want to say that when I saw that speech on the local news in Waterloo I was like, "Damn that guy makes me proud to me an Iowan. I wish I had two moms so I could be just like him!"

Can we talk about the removal of the judges? My main takeaway from the whole ousting them was that they allowed special interest groups to come into our state and tell us how to think while the three of them simply remained silent. Even I could tell they were going to loose months before the midterm election. There were no counter measures taken at all to quell the fire that those jerks from the southern starts were fanning.

Do you think their "traveling court" will help the others remain in their offices? What should they do to help them keep their jobs?

Let's do it.

Correct. Around 95% of the money spent in favor of removing the justices came from out of state. Interestingly, right around 90% of the money spent in favor of retaining the justices came from in state.

Take from that what you will.

And I sure hope so. The election was valid, and that's how politics work, but voting them out of office because of how they interpreted the law doesn't change the law. The folks that Gov. Branstad has appointed will almost surely interpret it the same way. Varnum v. Brien is going to be a very important ruling for a long time to come because it made crystal clear the legal obligation courts have in securing equal protection unless due process can prove otherwise.

Did you have to eat a lot of kale growing up?



Are you familiar with the work my biomom is doing regarding food? Check it out here.

baked kale chips are pretty freaken awesome

GREAT ... snack food.

Did you receive a 'birds and the bees' talk? How did that go?

We all do. It was just fine. Terry used a book that featured a straight coupe. It was about as awkward as yours was, I'm guessing.

For pure selfish reasons, I have to ask; What was your eagle project?

Scouting for Books. Think Scouting for Food, but with books. Wound up collecting about 5,000 of them for the local VA, the UI Hospital and the local school district.

How would this have changed if you were raised by two dads? Wouldn't that scar you?

Edit: To be clear I think there is a social stigma growing up that two fathers is looked down upon as he said, "second class citizens" and school is no haven for children with two dads. Don't take this the wrong way I'm seriously wondering how it changes with two dads. Clearly it does. but how would you put it? Zach wahls?

Well seeing as I don't have two dads, I really couldn't tell you.

That being said, I've met plenty of kids with two dads, and they all seem just fine to me.

Dude you sound just like Keanu Reeves. Was this on purpose or did you watch The Matrix a lot as a kid?

I usually get Hayden Christiansen, actually. But The Matrix was def one of my favs in high school. Still good, but no longer as incredible as I used to think.

I'm sorry... I have to ask... you're a republican aren't you?

Haha, registered Dem, but considering registering GOP to vote for Jon Huntsman in the Iowa GOP caucuses. Will likely vote for Obama, though, barring some huge, unforeseen development.

Clarification: To my understanding, the BSA's "Anti-gay" stance is more or less abstaining from making political judgement. Because the BSA isn't a political organization, the goal of preventing homosexual leadership (if so called upon) is more or less upholding what is seen as the status quo simply as the closest thing that can be done to avoid taking sides on this issue.

That said, I'm curious about the title of your book. What exactly does that mean?

Also, Eagle Scout here. Great accomplishment. High-five to all Eagles (especially Wahls for representing scouting in a positive manner) in this topic.

Basically, the point is that if you look at Scouting--specifically the Scout Law--you see values like courage, honesty, loyalty, responsibility and duty that are all, in my mind anyway, directly related towards the cause of advancing LGBT rights.

I saw that you said watch a lot of porn, so I assume you're probably straight, but I figured I'd ask because such a common "argument" against gay couple having children is that it makes the children gay. I don't buy that, as I know that nothing could change what I feel, but just out of curiosity, are you bisexual in anyway?

I am straight, though I don't know if I'd say I watch a "lot" of porn. Probably not much more than average.

I definitely identify as straight, but I'm also capable of appreciating a good looking guy. But I just don't find masculinity sexually attractive. I know both of my moms laugh when they try to think of spending the rest of their lives with men and I feel the same way.

More than whether or not you'd "have sex with men" or "have sex with women" when it comes to figuring out a person's sexuality, I think it's usually most indicative to think about who that person would want to spend the rest of his/her life with.

Are you satisfied with President Obama's position on gay marriage? If not, what should he do?

Yes. I will also say that I am probably around 80% confident that whomever receives the Dem nomination in 2016 will publicly support gay marriage.

So inspired!! Two questions-- one of my favorite movies lately is "The Kids are All Right" based on a family with 2 moms. [20yo F, what can I say?] If you have seen it, how accurate is it? As in siblings talking about "moms" and gender complexities in the home--did your moms have different parenting roles? Career roles? You say you called your non-biological mom by her first name, which reminds me of my step-dad. Did it ever feel non-familial to call her Terry?

Second question, are either you or your sister gay? Asking for no reason of course....

1) Not accurate at all. The premise of the movie is built around the kids really really wanting to meet their donor. I've met a lot of kids who were conceived using donor insemination and zero of them have that similar level of desire. Passing interest? Sure. Am I going to go out of my way to meet him? No.

2) Nope! And it's a silly question. Straight parents have been the leading cause of gay people forever. Also I have met people who were raised by gay parents who are gay. Turns out they're people too.

There are already tons of comments so I kind of doubt you'll get all the way down to this one but I just want to say that it's nice to see someone stand up for gay marriage the way you did.

Your speech was very well spoken, last year my public speaking professor actually used your speech as an example of "what we should shoot for." She said her only complaint was that your hand was in your pocket at the beginning. So yeah, great job!

Got all the way down.

Thanks for the props.

And yeah, I was nervous! Found some confidence when I hit my stride, but I was shaking at first.

Have your parents had any influence on your sexual orientation?

Not that I can detect. Although, I suppose, maybe I do get my attraction to beautiful women from my moms. Hard to say.

I would like to say, as a future University of Iowa student, you fucking rock. You are an amazing guy and a fabulous speaker.

Also you are my hero. I'm in speech and debate and planning on studying engineering at Iowa, and I hope one day to be as cool and successful as you are.

I know you said you don't like being put under a microscope but you do very well doing it. You are an inspiration, honestly.

Thanks man. I appreciate it.

Assuming you're using a macbook, because of the left-right mirroring issue. You can change the preferences to not mirror photos.

TIL. Thanks!

You did an amazing job. I know a couple who is due soon and I can't think of two parents who would raise a child better than these two women. Thanks.
Oh yeah a question... Wanna grab a beer sometime when you are old enough?

If you're in Iowa City, hit me up on Facebook. Turn 21 on July 15, 2012.

Iowa City here...thanks for taking a stand for what I would like to think are real Iowa values. Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain, bitch!

Fuck. Yeah. Seriously, the best state motto ever.

I'm partial to New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die".. and I'm from Pennsylvania..

I like Iowa's: "Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain."


Every time it's played for me (and it's almost always the introduction whenever I'm speaking) I'm bothered by the part where I say "The know the conversation gets quiet for a moment..." Probably the most evident slip-up. At the same time, I don't think I'd change anything. Little slip-ups just show that I'm human, I spose.

And they are both very proud. :D

A few things:

a) I'm so sorry for you. I can't imagine what it must be like living in Iowa.

b) You are smooth like butter

c) Your last line there, about how the sexuality of your parents had absolutely zero effect on you. I'd like to argue that point, if you don't mind. Wouldn't you say that growing up in a nontraditional household has actually given you a different perspective than the average person, fostering a nature of tolerance and understanding that many in your state don't have, outside college towns like Ames, where apparently everyone is a gay transsexual foreigner?

d) are you made of corn?

A) I actually love Iowa.

B) Are you sure it's butter?

C) I've argued this point quite a bit, actually. And you actually made the point for me. Kids growing up in a "nontraditional household" definitely have different life experiences, but there's nothing inherently non-traditional about it. It's the perceptions of other people that make it so. At the end of the day, it was their perceptions that changed my life experience, not anything inherent in my mothers' respective sexualities.

D) I am indeed, haha.


Haha, a little bit. I am looking forward to the questions not needing to be asked.

Don't you hate pants?

I like pants a lot, actually. I only ever wear shorts on the hottest days of summer or when I'm working out.

Call me sometime?

One step at a time, please. Let's exchange names first.

Yay Zach! I feel a little awkward talking to you directly because I feel like I know you and you obviously have no idea who I am. I'm a gay Iowan and I watched your speech the day after on youtube. I was moved, and I want to thank you for all you've done in representing that sexual orientation and a family unit are not mutually exclusive.

Question: Someday I'd like to have kids with my husband. I was wondering how you felt about having two moms at a young age. Did you feel embarassed and did you get a lot of flak from other kids? If so, how did your family deal with that and when did you really start to appreciate that your family was just as good as any other?

Don't want to sound like I'm just plugging the book here, but it's definitely something I talk about at length.

In brief, though, I felt just fine about it. I loved my family, and my family loved me. I got made fun of at school, but I dealt with it and moved on. I grew up and it wound up being a complete non-issue until the Internet got hold of me. My hunch is that by the time you and your husband have kids it will be even less of an issue.

You are a boss, but something I'm figuring out is that while passion does win many brownie points, as does good repetition (Basically MLK Jr. style speaking), it doesn't really change anyone's mind.

I'm like, a kid basically, so you have more experience than I have. But this is what I've noticed. The kind of speech you gave will win you hugs and blowjobs from your side of the argument. But for the other side, all that occurs is eyes being rolled.

Basically your speech had a good amount of pathos, you know, but in terms of convincing people you should be logos heavy, I find. If you can make them think "Well, I can't refute that" then there's that window before they rationalize their position again where they think about it and it makes them uncomfortable. Eventually they give, and they join your side. But that's after you make them feel uncomfortable on multiple occasions. Some of these people know they're full of shit, but I don't think the average person against gay parenting does because they haven't thought about it enough.


This was my thought at first too.

In fact, when I sat down and wrote the first draft of the speech it was LOGOS LOGOS LOGOS LOGOS. Thank you engineering.

But as I thought more and more about this debate, I realized that it is not a rational debate. It's shrouded in fear in a really, really big way. People, on both sides, are so scared that they aren't willing to listen to logical arguments. So I figured my best bet was probably trying to figure out how to neutralize the other side's emotional argument so we could have this conversation in a rational way, where I feel pretty confident my "side" has an advantage. Hence, pathos.

There was also a really, really subtle logos point that I didn't mention explicitly in the testimony, but that Will Wilkinson over at the Economist wrote a good article about. Check it out here.


Great speech. My question is this: How do your parents and yourself feel about participation in the church and boy scouts when both are historically and still actively prejudiced against gays?

Good questions. I'm a Unitarian Universalist (tl;dr--respect people) so my church is just fine with the gays. And with the Boy Scouts, there are different policies at different levels. I'm not going to just up and leave the US because the federal government doesn't recognize gay marriage. Likewise, at the local level, most troops actually don't have a problem with gay people being involved.

Is there a transcript of your speech available for those of us who can't listen to the video? Thanks!


Are you religious, spiritual, or have any particular faith?

I am lifelong, practicing Unitarian Universalist.

The tl;dr version is respect people. The wikipedia page is pretty good too.

Okay, politically ignorant Canadian here... What happened with the marriage laws after your speech?

Iowa House Joint Resolution 6, the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Iowa, passed the Iowa House, where I was speaking, in a 62-37 vote the next morning. It later died in the Iowa Senate, where Democrats maintain a razor-thin majority.

Are you worried that the Democrats are going to lose that majority in 2012? Also, how do you feel about Bob VanderPlatts?

Concerned, yes, but not particularly worried. I am planning on working with pro-equality candidates.

I've met him in person. Nice fellow. Abhorrent political views.

This question will, in all likelihood, be completely buried because I'm sorta late to this party, but I'm gonna ask it anyways.

What was the look on that guy's face when you said "If I were your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I would make you proud."?

You said a lot of great things. Keep fighting the good fight, man. You give me hope for our generation.

He was actually about fifty feet away, so I didn't have the best look. Wasn't thrilled though. And he had some interesting remarks to the next morning.

His remarks start at right around :20

I could tell you did speech and debate! what style of debate did you do?

Public Forum. I did speech as well, so I could never do all the research required to do policy, and I liked having a partner so LD was out of the question.

If you got a 99th percentile on the ACT, why did you go to Iowa? Sweet speech btw. Serious question

In state tuition + decent scholarship.

Hey Zach, This is Paul Ross, I don't know if you remember me. My intelligent question is: WHICH ONE DO YOU ENJOY MORE!? SC1 OR SC2?!?!?!?!?!!?! question of the century

Of course I remember you dude. 212 represent. Gotta be SC2, though. Nothing like roasting some Zerg in beautiful graphics.


Yeah, I actually won a state title in PF debate my senior year and was a two time national semifinalist in duo. I had a blast and learned a lot.

Were you ever teased with having two mothers from other children growing up? How about adults? Were there any situations with adults or older children berating you due to your mothers? Sorry if this is too personal. Thanks for being here Mr. Wahls.

I was teased for having two mothers by other kids when I was growing up, though it wasn't as bad as most people might think it would be. Stopped by the time I got to high school.

And I've had a lot adults talk shit about me, but never to my face.


Thanks man, it's appreciated.

And yeah, that's a good question. I did. After all, my moms didn't elope to some all-female compound in Lesbia-stan or anything. There were definitely men in and around my life. It wound up being a lot less big of a deal than you might think.

Less important than being a good "man" per se is being a good person.

And even though I didn't have a father figure in my life, per se, I'm still a pretty masculine dude. I'm hairy and like my whiskey neat and lift weights. I also like cooking, try to keep my room clean and can waltz all night. So... yeah.

Is there one of your parents that you would describe as the 'father figure'?

Nah. But my biological mother is the bravest, strongest, most disciplined person I've ever met.

How did your moms react to the speech?

Lots of crying and telling me how proud they were. I can't say this enough, though, the speech is really a testament to them.

What did you do during your time in speech and debate? I currently do speech in another state, and I'm curious as to what you did in the program as such a charismatic person!

I did Duo, OO and DI, but also PF Debate. Learned different, useful things from all four events.

What was being on Ellen like? How was she as a person?

Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. She's super nice and calming but realllllly intimidating. For some reason, "neat" is the phrase that comes to mind. Not "neat" like clean, but "neat" like she's a neat lady.


This word as well!

Do you like Left 4 Dead?

Never played it, actually. Not a huge FPS guy unless I get to be Batman or the Master Chief. All about the RTS. I'm an SC2 junkie.

I went to TEDx in Iowa City and was delightfully surprised this was your mom! Impressive family!

Right? Seriously, I get all this from her...

Not being a jerk, but it's hard to believe someone telling he's a child of a lesbian couple without proof. This is the Internet, anyone can make a story and then people will instantly believe you without backing up an evidence. Just one pic of you and your parents together is what I'm just asking.

check out my website at


Instate tuition + pretty good scholarship = very small amounts of debt, mostly.

"long time redditor"? With a 4 day old account. ಠ_ಠ

Yeah, haha, this is a throwaway. I've had my other one for about a year and a half.

I'm using a throwaway because I want to keep making politically incorrect jokes without somebody who's opposed to gay marriage getting his panties all in a bunch. Gotta be careful out there.

Are those your parents on the right side of the video behind you?

Nope! There was a blizzard in Iowa that night and my moms were back in Iowa City.

For me, this is one of the least interesting AMAs ever. I have no questions for you.

Please take that in a positive way.

Taken positively, believe me.

Just coming here to say that your moms are so lucky. And that I am a brunette, but I'm only 5'9" :( Keep on fighting the good fight.

I'm the lucky one. My moms are absolutely awesome. Even through having to deal with Terry's MS and all the stigma I faced at times for having lesbian parents, I still maintain that I got lucky as hell.

And 5'9" counts as "tall" in my book.

I wish I had an ounce of your charisma and eloquence.

Lots and lots of practice man. I was on the speech and debate team at my high school for two years and it was lots and lots and lots of practice.

Hey! You mentioned you did speech/debate. You sound like you did Lincoln/Douglas, am i correct in assuming so? If so props, and I'm sure you kicked serious ass in HS.

I didn't, actually. I was a PF guy. My partner did LD the year before though, and she was amazing. She actually debated for Team USA. Super intelligent and an amazing partner.

So, do you think being raised by two homosexual moms gave you any homosexual tendencies?

It's funny. Whenever I'm asked this, I usually point out that lesbians are in fact attracted to women...

I think it is very impressive that you scored a 99% and you are an Eagle Scout, I was wondering, what was your favorite part of Scouting. Currently I'm a Star Scout, close to Life. Also, do you have any advice?

Make sure your project is something you're passionate about. I love reading and have been reading since I was a little kid and think it's an important part of who I am, so I did a project that was aimed at increasing opportunities to read.

And this: at the end of the day, the only person who decides whether or not you make it to Eagle is you.

Heya. Nice speech. I'm all for gay unions/marriages, but something I'm curious about is your stance on a gay married couple adopting a child. Since your biological mother was still present, do you think this significantly changed the way you were raised, compared to a young child adopted by two unfamiliar homosexual parents? Do you think it would be all that different from any normal adoption in regards to how the child adjusts?

Not in the least to both questions, except for the fact that my parents were who my parents are. They're both incredible people. They just happen to be gay.

Do you feel that growing up you lacked a male influence? Not necessarily a father figure, but just a fellow male to talk to?

Not at all. I had my buddies, had men in my life (through Scouts and through family) who I knew I could talk to if I wanted to. I don't think there was ever a question I asked my moms that they failed to answer, though.

hey man, loved your speech for content and delivery! I just wanted to know: how often (if at all) do you wonder what it would be like to have a dad? Were there times in your life where you wished you had a male parent, and if so, why?

Only ever when I'm asked exactly that question.

And yes, but only because I wanted people to stop bullying me, not because I didn't love my moms or wanted to change my family because of who my family was. And that stopped in junior high.

Way, way more frustrating and painful was the fact that my bio mom had multiple sclerosis.

One time I got drunk with this guy, it was pretty fun

Yeah? Where/when was that?

I think we were drinking mojitos, I'm not sure you were there all night now that I think about it.

And they were damn good mojitos.

Hello Zach Wahls, i'm Zach Wall. Nice to meet you =)

PS. nice name

I like yours an awful lot, too. Friends on FB?


Me too! And believe me, it's my pleasure.

Hey man. You brought me to tears and gave me goosebumps. And I'm a tattoed pierced up mohawk sporting musician. I do have a question.

Obviously you're proud of being Eagle Scout. Which is honorable enough. I quit the scouts when I found out they don't allow boys and young men who are gay to participate. Which brings me to the question regarding an obvious conflict of interest.

*How are you able to take such pride in the scouts knowing they discriminate based on sexual orientation? *

Again, I'm in no way trying to discredit you or piss on any of your impressive achievements. Just an honest question. Thanks and stay you. You are a beautiful person.

Yeah, I definitely see where you're coming from.

I've answered this elsewhere, but the tl;dr version is that in my mind, I'm not going to emigrate from the US just because the federal government doesn't recognize SSM. At the end of the day, the local troops set that policy, and my troop (and Cub Scout Packs, waaay back in the day) didn't have a problem with LGBT folks.

I can be a proud American without supporting everything the US does because I believe in the ideas for which it stands: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Likewise, I can be a proud Scout without supporting all of the BSA's policies, (I also think it's ridiculous that atheists are barred from participating.) because I believe in its central ideas: responsibility, loyalty, courage, honesty.

We went to high school together and had the same position on the West Side Story staff, but a couple years apart. I have been very proud to brag about that connection to you both because of your great speech and because your mom gave us an awesome lecture on nutrition during our first year of medical school.

Great job, makes me proud to be a Trojan... or whatever.

Yeah, and if you are who I think you are, you ran that guest column my freshman year. IF you hadn't, I never would have been columns editor my senior year and I never would have written a guest op ed about the ruling legalizing SSM. If I hadn't written that, I never would have been noticed by Lambda Legal, which litigated the case, and I never would have been asked to speak at the hearing.

I'd love to buy you a drink, if you ever stop back in Iowa City.

There's nothing sexier than a man in a well-fitting suit preaching against the erroneous stigma of gay marriage having an adverse effect on society. swoon

I do what I can.

Why are you so awesome?

Lesbian parents, mostly.

I wish my sperm donor was a male model/astronaut.

Me too! Mine was studying to be a tax attorney...

So you're proactive, right? A go-getter? You seem to be very busy these days and success-oriented.

Do you think this driven attitude of yours has developed out of a desire to prove people wrong about gay marriage? Or, put another way, do you feel pressure to succeed in order to disarm those that might attribute your failures to being raised by an "alternative" family?

Keep in mind that your motivations are inconsequential to me. You're a cool guy and doesn't afraid of anybody. What you have accomplished stands for itself and is knee-slappingly admirable. I'm just curious.

I am sometimes. Sometimes I stay in bed all day.

And no, I think it was just developed out of being taught that things in life aren't free or easy. You have to work to get them and if you want success in life you have to earn it. It's an attitude I bring to the whole gay marriage debate as well.

Show us pictures of your pets and we'll make you our leader.


Holy mother of -- is that a GOLDEN DOODLE PUPPY? That thing is friggin' adorable.

Close. Cockapoodle.

Haha wow. 1600+ comments and 2300+ upvotes. Glad I emailed that guy for an AMA! Not bad for a 2 week old Redditor?

Haha, thinking the same thing man.

You like Starcraft 2.... but do you like.... LEAGUE OF LEGENDS

My best friend loves it, but I use a MacBook, and they've delayed the Mac version of LoL forever. I've played a couple times, and I'm decent, but it's just not my game. RTS is def my fav genre.

I literally just watched your video. For an engineering student, you have very impressive public speaking skills. Thank you for standing up for what's right. Question: I thought that the Boy Scouts were pretty opposed to homosexuality as an organization. Was that your experience?

This is true of the national organization, but not necessarily true of each individual troop.

hey are you also that guy from the gif "how i shaved my man-stache off"??

Negative. I can only aspire to have a moustache as manly as that.

I know you won't see this, but I thought you might like to know that the video of your speech in front of the legislature is being used in college classes about argument and advocacy to show how to properly articulate your position. Thanks for being awesome!

I don't like being contrary, but I did in fact see this.

I do my best.

Stay classy Bruce.

so how did it end up? What was the outcome of that day?

Well it was just a hearing, no votes were had that night.

The next morning, however, they voted 62-27 to advance HJR6, the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, out of the House, but it then died in the senate.

Has this video helped you get any girls in college?

Not nearly as much as you might think.

I got my degree in Nutrition, and have followed your mothers work ever since I first heard about it. I live in Iowa City and actually got a chance to hear her speak at TedX! Awesome! With a mother doing groundbreaking research, beating multiple sclerosis and a son who got viral video famous for being well-spoken it's safe to say that your family MUST be awesome. That is all.

Yeah, she's absolutely amazing. Who I am is a testament to both her and Jackie. They're incredible people.

Hey Zach,

We actually spoke together at an HRC event in Washington DC!

It's Calvin, my brother is the straight Marine.

I don't have any questions, just wanted to wish you the best. Glad the book is coming along, I was thinking about it the other day. Tell your moms I said hi, they're lovely.


Yeah, dude, totally remember. Hope you guys are doing well too. And I certainly will. :)

Have you seen the evidence that the legalization of gay marriage often leads to restricted religious freedoms? If so, being a UU, how do you feel about that?

I think that if the Church tries to inflict its morality on the state, it shouldn't be surprised when the state tries to inflict its morality on the Church.

I think there should be a clear separation between the two.

This is what happens when you spend 3 hours away from reddit. You show up to the party 3 hours late. Fuck!

Luckily the host is still having a good time.

First of all, you're a boss. This was an amazing speech, and judging from the comments it's definitely influenced a lot of people. But for the actual question, how does it feel to suddenly be swamped by compliments and respect almost overnight? Best wishes for you and your family.

Intoxicating, overwhelming, humbling, objectifying, weird, cool, and terrifying are all appropriate. I'm still trying to figure out how to use this to meet Emma Watson.

Your voice was sexy, your suit was sexy. Your speech was sexy. Wanna have some "Straight guy on straight guy" gay sex?

Also, my question: What's your ideal lunch?

I'll pass on the sex, but I love a good Quiznos Classic Italian for lunch.

Your a faggot loving cunt. Go suck a dick.

For what it's worth, I'm neither gay nor an atheist. Will be downvoting you though.

So, are you single? sincerely, interested, educated, and open-minded. :)

Haha, I am indeed.

Hey, Zach! I just reblogged your speech, so it was pretty awesome to see your AMA. I was just wondering--did you do speech & debate in high school? Some of the inflections sounded like they came from that community.

Thanks so much for being such a wonderful, talented person. Wish you all the best!

Yup! I joined my school's team my junior year. We participated in the NFL, so I did Duo, DI, OO and PF Debate. Was a great time and I learned a lot.

So you did debate too? Policy or legislative? Did you also do speech events/forensics? From your fellow debater

Neither, actually. I did Public Forum.

Are you still studying Engineering?

Not currently, though I plan on resuming my studies in 2013.

i am unfamiliar with the way this vote turned out. what were the results?

also what would you do to fix our debt problem? cut expenses, tax more, both, or some unmentioned option of your own design.

The constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage passed the Iowa House, where I was speaking, but died in the Iowa Senate.

And it's going to have to be combination, I think. I thought the President's plan sounded reasonable. It's also worth noting that while the debt problem is important and a big deal, it's not the biggest deal. You have to look at it relative to GDP, and when you do that, it's still at manageable levels.

If you look down the line, the biggest threat is runaway health care spending. So let's figure out a way to reduce health care costs. Of course, we already know how to do that: More healthy food, more exercise, less unhealthy food. Might seem inconsequential compared to all the other problems in the world, but if you get down to the nitty gritty, whether or not Americans are healthy is going to play a huge role in determining this country's economic prosperity over the next hundred years.

Hey man, saw your speech months ago and am also a long time redditor. I have clerked in the Iowa House and know many Republican legislators that are secretly in support of your efforts. Have you thought of getting involved with Iowa Republicans for Freedom? I know you said you are a registered Dem, but I think that would be a way to make an impact.

I'm actually hoping to work with Jeff A. in the future. Met him super briefly the evening of the hearing, but would love to really work with him to make a difference on this topic.

Are you into politics at all? Iowa is an important state in the presidential election; will you be voting in the Republican Caucus at all? Do you support any candidates? Do you see yourself having any future in politics?

Actually, I'm thinking about switching my registration to vote for Jon Huntsman, and I've answered the politics question elsewhere. Should be near the top, I think.

You kicked ass, mate.

I pounded it.

I know he will never read this ever, but sir, you are an amazing speaker and should be commended for your passion. I hope all the best for your family and truly hope people come around on the topic of gay marriage.

Read, actually.

Thanks. :D

As see from all the posts asking if you're single and proposing marriage, you are generally considered a stud. Has this been to your advantage outside of the internet? Have you had a number of cute girls flirt with you or ask you out since the video went viral?

Haha, not really. I've been recognized in public, and my friends give me shit about it when we're at parties, but it's kind of a hard thing to talk about without sounding like a pretentious, self-important douchebag.

And I wish I had time to flirt back, but the last ten months have been crazy.

I'm from Iowa, but go to school in South Dakota. As part of my speech class we could show the class videos of great speeches.

I put your speech up, It got into a pretty heated discussion, but in the end the anti-gay marriage crowd really ended up looking like fools.

Anyways, I just thought you should know that. Good job man.

Iowans represent!

I've found that the longer you talk about the topic, the more people on the other side have to resort to unintelligible arguments.

Hey, your speech was very awesome. Can I ask what your small business is? It was very impressive to hear such an eloquent 19 year old, and then to hear you have a business? Cool.

If you had the chance to meet your father ala The Kids Are Alright would you want to?

Maybe, but probably just for dinner or to shoot the shit over a pitcher of beer. I'm certainly not going to go out of my way to fly across the country or anything.

inspiring... dont get me wrong if it were not for the internet i could say that you would move a lot of people to do the right thing

but karmawhore much? honestly lol

This is a throwaway. My main has less than half the karma this one does.

this will likely be buried and not read... but I do hope you do see this.

I've seen your video standing up for your moms. I was raised by very homophobic mormon parents, and I NEVER understood why they were against it. I hated being pressured to 'conform' to their version of Christianity, and and when I got to age, I rejected it.

I've held a lot of faith in you, your upbringing, and your strength of character. please, I ask - keep representing your moms. it means a lot to people like me - a straight man, married, raising a son that I will BITCHSLAP if I hear a gay/lez slur in ANY way, the same way I'd bitchslap him for any racial slur. I hope that you will continue to advocate for gay rights. you have my everlasting support.

Thanks man. It's not always easy to stand up for what we think is right, but the support of people like you make it a hell of a lot easier.

What would you say to someone like this? I believe he is the reason the human race will become extinct.

I think it's funny that he's saying that the son of a gay couple will lead to the extinction of the human race because gay couples don't have kids.

I'm reading every post in your voice.

You seem like more or less the man. I guess the only question I have is how has all the media attention effected you? Have people harassed you since you made the speech? I would imagine a boatload of pats on the back by most of the people who saw it, but also being ostracised by a large amount of people too.

Great question.

Media attention is weird. I've talked more about my family in the last ten months than the previous 19 years combined. Having your life put under a microscope is no fun when you're my age, but I also recognize the potential that my story has to change hearts and minds.

And not really. I wasn't even particularly concerned about being bothered myself, so much as worried about my sister. But she's also reported smooth sailing so far, so it's all good.

Thanks for doing this AMA! I enjoyed watching your address. I was wondering how your parents reacted? Were they proud? Embarrassed?

Proud mostly. A bunch of crying, but mostly proud.

Do you feel the same way about transgender and transsexual parents?

Never had a trans parent, but I've met some trans folks and most of them were pretty cool people. A couple were douchenozzels, but that's life. Just shows that trans people are people too.

Hey, Zach, I'm a guy you knew in high school (look at my username, and I'm sure you can figure out who). Just want to say that, while our political positions didn't always agree, I always did, and continue to, respect the way you go about arguing your beliefs and supporting them. Keep up the good work.

Thanks Jimmy. Believe me, it's mutual.

Are those your moms behind you in the clip?

Nope! They were back in IC.

I'm pretty sure I saw your duo at nationals. Which one did you do?

The Why in 2009, about a school shooting, and The Boys Next Door, about a social worker, in 2008.

i'm so confused by the "this backwards"

i don't get why you didn't turn the paper around to write "whats up reddit" then turn the paper back around if you have trouble writing from the other side...

and they aren't even the same if you read "this backwards" backwards, the letters don't line up the the same thing (think "racecar" forwards/backwrads)

please explain! :(

It's like a mirror. Write something down and look at it in a mirror. That's how my computer was taking the picture. Silly MacBook!

Hi Zach, thanks for taking the time to do this. I watched this video of you, and according to the youtube description, you were speaking in a public forum regarding House Joint Resolution 6 which was:

a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Iowa specifying marriage between one man and one woman as the only legal union that is valid or recognized in the state.

I certainly understand being against that resolution. My question for you is, are you aware of arguments to expand legal marriage even beyond merely including same-sex couples or of more radical critiques of the institution? If so, do you have any thoughts or opinions on those ideas? (Specifically to the idea that marriage equality is a step in the wrong direction because it emphasizes conservative marriage values instead of re-working or abolishing marriage.)

I think marriage is about love and commitment. And I think that if two people are committed to each other and are in love, they should be deprived of all the legal rights, privileges and protections (all 1,138 of them) enumerated in a civil marriage contract.

Are you aware that you are currently on the front page of r/ladyboners . . . twice?

I am now, haha. Have to confess that I'm not a frequenter of r/ladyboners, although I do stop by /twoxchromosomes from time to time.

With all due respect, how was your speech not a straw man? Yes, it's possible to raise a boy in a fatherless home. Social science shows this is statistically going to cause more problems for the child. You mentioned you were in debate, how does pleading one individual case, in lieu of addressing broader data sets, extrapolate to the entire state and thereby make an argument?

You're confusing your causation and correlation man. When all of those various studies, and I've read a lot of them, say that the problem is that the kid doesn't have a father, the problem is actually that the family is poor. It's just that there's a strong correlation between poverty and fatherlessness. The absence of a father, though, obviously doesn't case poverty.

My moms are both quite secure financially.

Further, the argument is not that some gay people are incapable of raising children, the argument is that gay people are incapable of raising children because they are gay. Even one data point that contradicts the hypothesis, presuming that my parents are in fact gay, is enough to call into questions said hypothesis if the hypothesis is so far-reaching.

I'm not making this argument well, so I'll defer to this article, which made the point quite well:

I'm pro gay rights but my concern is the way certain arguments are being made.

When all of those various studies, and I've read a lot of them, say that the problem is that the kid doesn't have a father, the problem is actually that the family is poor.

The way I've interpreted the data, money and extended familial involvement can be a mitigating factor in fatherless homes. In other words, yes, if like the President, one grows up in a home of means, goes to all private schools, has active grandparents and doesn't face the daily challenges that lower middle and lower class kids face, most of the time they will be fine. Is it reasonable this will be the average American experience any time soon?

My moms are both quite secure financially.

See above.

Further, the argument is not that some gay people are incapable of raising children, the argument is that gay people are incapable of raising children because they are gay.

Perhaps part of the resistance, is that implicit in your argument, is that because a wealthy gay couple has raised a boy without incident, fathers (or mothers) are superfluous in a boys' life. I'm curious how you might feel about this argument later in life. If you were to get a girl pregnant in college, who believed strongly as you appear to that boys don't need a father to be healthy, who then moved back home to another state to raise the baby without you, would that bother you? She might could use some of your own arguments to justify that your son would be fine without you.

Even one data point that contradicts the hypothesis, presuming that my parents are in fact gay, is enough to call into questions said hypothesis if the hypothesis is so far-reaching.

The way I interpret the data, fathers become much more important in middle to lower class families. I strongly believe that fatherless homes in these classes partially cause increased cycles of poverty, lack of education and increased violent crime. In lower class homes, fathers provide a buffer against drugs, teen pregnancy in girls, boys joining gangs, etc. Peer reviewed medical studies show that in homes without their fathers, girls start puberty earlier and become sexually active at a younger age.

Do you think it's reasonable that 30 million lower and middle class people could suddenly become Physicians, move to the suburbs and send their kids to exclusive private schools? This is where the "fathers don't matter" argument stumbles, because amongst lower classes a father matters more than someone in your position. Do you not see how you might possibly be a statistical outlier in this whole scenario?

If you were to get a girl pregnant in college, who believed strongly as you appear to that boys don't need a father to be healthy, who then moved back home to another state to raise the baby without you, would that bother you?

Yeah, but it wouldn't bother me because my kid was growing up without a father, I'd be upset because he's my kid, too. And donor 1033 didn't sign on to be a dad, he signed on to provide sperm. Which he did with vigor, it seems.

Probably also worth pointing out that while my moms are secure financially, they're nowhere near the 1%. And I've also met a lot of kids who have two moms/dads who are a lot less financially secure than my moms and they're doing just fine.

And I hope you realize that by far and large the vast majority of "fatherless" homes are run by single straight women, so the argument you're trying to make against SSM could just as easily be used against preventing poor straights from marrying.

That video of your speech has been online for months. Props. But what made you decide to do an IAMA now?

The video went viral again today (I don't understand the Internet) and hit the front page for the third time in under a year. I've gotten AMA requests every time and figured third time was the charm.

totally support you, you're aresome, whoop whooop gay rights, but random question, does it get hard/confusing when referring to them with proper grammar? like when you want to show possession of nouns. "my moms favorite book" whos fav book is it? or referring to them both "my moms are cool" and its like "are you trying to show possesion?" haha just a funny thing i was thinking about while reading your responses.

Haha, yes! Especially when Word doesn't recognize "moms's"

Silly Word.

I hear that earlier in your life you had a fairly successful career in parkour with two masculine and sexy young men some people would call your better two thirds. Could you elaborate on this?

Love, Charizard and Pikachu

Haha, the Playground Ninjas will rise again.

I'm pretty sure this will never be seen because of how many comments there currently are, but what the hell I'll give it a shot anyway.

How would you feel about the government stepping out of marriage altogether? Stop government endorsed marriage, straight or gay.

Well it would be a problem. There are so many legal issues revolving what we call a "marriage license" that for the gov't to step away would probably make the situation worse. Better would be to stop calling it a "marriage license" and start calling it a "civil union." Let churches (or whatever) do the marrying and let the government do the civil unioning.

Hey Zach, Amazing speech. There was only one small thing I wanted to say/ask that made me a little sad that you said it. My son is adopted and at one point you mentioned that your sister and you have the same biological father/donor and that made you feel "better" (or something to that effect). I wonder why? As you so eloquently stated, what makes a family is the commitment the people have to each other. Our son was adopted at birth, and we have never (nor has he to my knowledge) felt different about him than our genetic/biological son, and although he has found his birth mother mostly out of curiosity, I am positive that he would never feel that the fact that he and his brother are NOT fully genetically related makes them any less brothers or different in some way.

That being said, I will echo another comment, RUN FOR OFFICE YOUNG MAN!!! You will do the world and our nation proud. We have enough idiots in government and you would certainly be a breath of fresh air!

Best of luck,

Jon "bleurose" Rosen

I said that I thought it was "really cool," and I still do. Mostly because she looks almost exactly like a female version of me and like our biomom and I do think that that's cool. That being said, our emotional connection has nothing to do with our genetic one.


Thought he was a great idea back in 08 before I actually understood what libertarianism was. I support some of his positions, but I think most libertarians don't understand that people, and therefore markets, are not perfect and discriminatory and not fully-informed. Eliminating the Department of Education won't help inner-city schools.

Someone already asked my question. Um. So do you like beer and drinking beer? We should have beers.

Beer is alright. I'm a whiskey guy, though. I'm almost always down for a drink, though.

If you could be a combination of any two animals, what would you be, and why?

Combination? That's hard. Maybe a zebra and a lion. Lions because they're awesome and Zebras because they've got awesome stripes.

If I was going to be any non-human animal, though, I'd definitely be a dolphin. So maybe a combination of a dolphin and a shark?

Love the video, but seriously, what was with the tie dude? ;)

Lucky tie, actually, haha.

What is your favorite flavor of Doritos?

Cool ranch. Although taco is pretty good too. And it's weird how much the cheeseburger ones taste like cheeseburgers...

Want to go bowling?

I'd like that.

I ate dinner with you in 2008 when I was an M1 and Terry invited her group over to your house. We made quesadillas. You were very nice. It was kind of an awkward evening.

Those dinners always were. Camus is awesome though.

Effort at a heartwarming question:

How much do you love your moms? I know I love my mom a lot, so I'm pretty sure you are mainlining hearts and smiles.

Snarky question:

How do you survive the maternal neediness? I mean, fuckshit, one mom can be soul crushingly needy. How do you do it with two?

One of my moms was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was only nine. By the time I was in junior high, she could barely walk. In a sense, I actually became one her primary caregivers. Believe me when I say that too much maternal neediness, aimed at me, was never an issue.

Chipotle or Pancheros?

Gotta be Panch. Nothing beats their queso.

Who was the very bored looking old man sitting behind you?

The guy in the suit or the guy in the bundeswehr outfit?

The one in the suit sitting down. No expression on his face.

He works for the Iowa House. More or less an usher.

I loved loved the speech. You kicked ass man. Delivered it like a boss. But just one question arose, did you write that speech yourself?? It wouldn't take anything away from it but just curious because that was phenomenal!

I did, actually! Took quite a while. Couldn't tell you exactly how many hours I spent, as I really don't remember. (I once estimated six and I once estimated twenty... probably closer to ten.) Then I tried to memorize it during my two hour drive to give the talk.

I'm going to go against Reddit, and get downvoted for this.

I don't think the argument you presented in the video was good. It's argument by example, which is hardly an argument at all. If your opponent was arguing that same sex marriage always produces bad children, then you would have presented a good counter-argument. But the opponent argues that there are problems in some / many same sex upbringings. And you are presenting no counter-argument whatsoever to this claim.

EDIT: And I was right. A reasonable critique, and I am downvoted without explanation. The upvoting hivemind posts is bad, but the mindless downvoting of anti-hivemind posts is worse.

You're not the only of that opinion. Anecdotal evidence, obviously, isn't what you want to use to disprove a hypothesis, especially a cherry-picked piece of anecdotal evidence to boot. But you're incorrect.

If your opponent was arguing that same sex marriage always produces bad children, then you would have presented a good counter-argument.

Coming from somebody who had lived this argument all his life, that is the argument. And the reason it's the argument is because the reason gay marriage produces bad children is because the parents are gay.

My parents are gay, I turned out alright, hypothesis has been called into question.

This article really goes in depth to this argument:

Hmm, I read that article, and it seems that it supports the usefulness of anecdotal evidence from a sort of statistical standpoint. I don't see any evidence in that article that claims that the other side argues that same-sex marriage always produces bad children. I don't doubt that some people think that, but I don't think that is the discussion you were having when you presented your argument in the video. Maybe I'm wrong, but the article you linked to doesn't claim otherwise.

Sure, but why would some gay people raise kids effectively and others not? The disqualifying part of a gay couple raising kids is the "gay" part, unless I've been drastically misinformed.

I suppose this is anecdotal evidence as well, but as somebody who's been a part of this debate for my whole life I have never encountered somebody whose starting position was that some gay people should be able to get married and some gay people should be able to raise kids. Have you? If so, what would the criterion be? Why would they apply only to gay people? Are you in favor of applying those criterion to straight people too? If not, how do you justify your position?

you may think having gay parents didnt effect you but it really did you just dont see it because you think its normal

Well as I pointed out in my testimony, I've never met somebody who could realize independently that I was raised by a gay couple, so it clearly didn't have that big of an effect.

An ent, a gamer,a Redditor, a scout, pro-gay marriage, literate, cute, AND tall?!

One last qualifier... Age?

I'm 20. But, if I do say so myself, I feel like I'm 30. Having a mom with multiple sclerosis will age you.

You did a great job. Your moms should be very proud of you.

They are. :D

Do you think if marriage had been legal Before your parents got married that it would have effected how you grew up?

Yeah, it would have. Like I pointed out in the speech, our family didn't derive its sense of worth, but it would have been nice knowing that we had all the legal rights and protections that a "straight" family gets to have if the parents are married. This was a really big deal because of Terry's multiple sclerosis.

So what's his normal redditor name? or is he keeping it anonymous

Keeping that anonymous, haha.

Bravo sir, not sure if anyone asked: Do you have a blog or something that we all can follow? Twitter? Tumblr? Wordpress?

On twitter @zachwahls

I've got a website, but I don't update it nearly as often as I would like. Once the book comes out, probably next summer, I'll probably be updating it on a regular basis, though.

Ok, that was fast. But I just Googled you and that came up. Kudos from Malaysia!

EDIT: btw, make an e-book alright? Not sure it will reach here, kinda conservative the place I'm living in.

I'm seriously going to cite this post when I talk with the publisher next week. E-book it is!

I feel like a creep, but I also feel obligated to admit that I was just talking about how adorable you are with my friend like ten minutes before I saw this.

I think it's awesome that you spoke up the way you did. You are a wonderful speaker and you made an awesome point. While I wasn't raised by two moms, my mother came out when I was 12 and has been with her girlfriend now for 7 or 8 years. I watched your speech for the first time and cried! I'm a baby when it comes to this stuff. Seeing any human stick up for other's rights with such passion is moving in itself, but seeing you stand up to someone's statements and prove them wrong is amazing as well.
Anywho, my question: Are you pursuiting a career in public speaking or something in that vein?

Happy reddit birthday!

I'm not pursuing a career in public speaking, although I am doing some now because I feel that this is a crucial time for the LGBT rights movement. I plan on returning to school in spring 2013 to continue my engineering studies.

I requested you do an AMA a little while ago, and got this message:

Do you know who this genius is? Or what his beef is?

No idea. Haters gonna hate.

nice ass

Nice bandit!

Have you ever caught your moms scissoring? serious question.


Fuck homos

Coming from someone who's met literally thousands of them, the key word in "gay person" is "person."

I went to a party with you at Cody Shafers house.

I went to a number of parties at Mr. Shafer's house, so this is probably true.

Is this your main account?

Negative. I'll be going back to my anonymous one briefly.

Zach, First off, I just wanted to let you know that I respect your argument about gay marriage, and I also give you a thumbs up for the speech that you gave as well, it was extremely well put together. But there was something that I wanted to give you a heads up about.

About a month and a half ago you gave a speech here at my university in Indiana. I attended your speech and I wanted to let you know that you offended some people in the audience that day. Its not the subject of the speech that offended people either. It was the way you presented it. You may not be aware of this or not, but you offended Christians and Catholics alike in the audience. In your speech you mentioned a part where a girlfriend of yours mother posed a awkward question to you, but in the description you said that she was Catholic and not very open minded. I am catholic, and was raised that way. I do not hate, and I am always trying to keep an open mind about things and see things through others peoples perspectives. The way it was worded made it seem that ALL Catholics are closed minded people. There were a couple of other things as well, however I feel like this was a major turn off for people. Perhaps being more careful when it comes to talking about Christianity and quoting the bible out of context to prove a point.

I swear I do not mean disrespect by saying all this. I only wanted to give you a heads up. I know that this matter is near and dear to your heart, and I do not disagree with you. But speaking honestly I felt offended and a bit angry when I was leaving the auditorium that day. I wish you the best of luck when it comes to your book and I hope school is going well for you as well.

Hey dude, thanks for the heads up. I'll definitely be more careful about how I phrase that in the future. Bad wording on my part.

I'm probably getting here too late, but do you plan on staying in Iowa after you graduate? I went to school in Iowa and recently moved back here for a job, and my friends who lives in other places think I'm crazy.

I'm not sure. Probably. I'm not currently in school, and I'm still living here. I've traveled a bunch in the last ten months and still have yet to find a place that feels more like home than Iowa.


Woah. That's awesome, haha.


Thanks. :D

  1. How do you react to gay bashers? You're obviously intelligent and know that a shouting match gets you no where fast. Having lesbian parents, you're emotionally involved so do you let that show or exercise restraint? Have you ever said something that has almost instantly changed some ones perception of the gay community?

  2. I'm from Rochester, New York and wonder if you've ever tried a Wahlburger?

I think people are people and should be respected no matter what their beliefs are. I've found that waaay too much of this conversation is driven by fear/anger on both sides and that if you want somebody to really understand you and where you're coming from you have to first understand him and where he's coming from.

And maybe the most powerful observation that can be made is that the key word in "gay person" is "person." Might seem silly to you or me, but most people who are opposed to SSM literally think of gay people as subhuman. You can look at the downvoted comments on this thread for examples.

And I've never tried a Wahlburger, but mother of God it looks amazing.

will you marry me?

Believe it or not, you're not the first female on reddit to ask me that.

This is a throwaway account to prepare for the massive downvotes.

First, I just want to say that I support Zach's cause and I am fully in favor of marriage equality. I have many gay friends and respect them a great amount. Zach was very eloquent and poised during his speech.

This is not about that.

This is about Zach Wahls being a huge douchebag.

I know Zach in real life, I interacted with him before he ever became an advocate for his parents. He is a pretentious fuck. I have never met anyone so self absorbed and condescending in my whole life, this has only gotten worse sense he became famous. I think if people actually knew him it would hurt his cause greatly.

In high school someone shit on his car. This was not a hate crime, this was because Zach Wahls is an asshole.

So, I'm sorry, but seeing him get praised and all that makes me rage. Yes, there is jealousy. It is not only that, however, it is my sense of decency that is offended.

I am angry at him and his stupid khaki pants.

Anyway, had to get that out.

Someone shit on my car?

That's great, Zach. But I think you've become a bit of an attentionwhore. Maybe you should find a few other things to define yourself by other than just being that kid who all the bitches want to bang because of his endearing speech.

Oh, believe me, I don't like being seen as one-dimensional any more than anyone else. And it's funny, because up until ten months ago, this was really not an important of who I was and had not really been a big part of my life in any way. I'm looking forward to an AMA (from a kid our age with two moms/dads) like this being ridiculously boring in the years to come.

My speech teacher played your speech in my class. Noice job. I'm usually fairly good at public speaking but in front of the IA legislature I probably would have been a sputtering mess. Far too large scale. Nice job.

Yeah, the trick was not to think about it too hard. You might have noticed that started with my hands in my pockets. That's because I was shaking, haha. But once I got going, I hit my stride and, I dunno, I don't actually remember what was going through my mind at all. But I found that that was the case, too, when I was in speech and debate and I was on a roll. You just stop thinking about it and instinct takes over.

What is 11 times 4?


I just saw the video for the first time, and I am very impressed; you deserve all the recognition you receive. I also have a lot of questions, so be prepared: How do you balance your business, education and speaking engagements? Do you have plans to speak internationally? Who is your preferred demographic to speak to? What was your initial response to how much publicity your speech got? How did your friends and family react? And finally: was your birthday really on the day the final Harry Potter came out?? If so, we're birthday-mates. Feels really creepy just saying that, but I saw it on your blog. Happy redditing :)

Sup, neighbor.

Haha, what's up man? Hope you're doing well, dude.

What is your opinion on Chad Jensen?

You're awesome. Although you did break my collar bone. I probably had it coming, though. But seriously, you're one of the hardest workers I've ever met.

Are you single?

I am, although I don't have any plans on attending any dildo dance parties any time soon.


Do they even have those in Iowa?

I felt the music swelling in my soul when I watched that. I'd seen it some time ago, shared it with everyone I knew. Caught some FB flak from my fundie family, but you're a tough act to argue against. Well done, sir. If you ever find yourself in KC, I owe you a beer for being awesome. I have a level 2 mancrush on you.

Upboat for spelling "flak" correctly and for being willing to risk it for something you believe is right. And now I'm trying to figure out if Level 2 is stronger or weaker than Level 3.

Our 2 yr. old grandson has just been placed with a lesbian couple for future adoption. His biological parents gave up their parental rights and the grandmother who took custody no longer wants him, nor apparently does anyone else in either family. My husband and I are too old to handle a toddler, but my husband is very conflicted at this turn of events. Will he be confused? Will schoolmates ridicule him? Nothing I say alleviates his concerns, but now I have a powerful tool - your video. You confirmed that being wanted by a loving family is the single most important gift you can have. Thank you for your honesty. You have helped more people than you'll ever know.

He might be confused, and he'll probably be bullied, but he'll make it through and turn out just fine. The confusion, though, won't stem from having two moms--it will stem from the doubt that others will sow in him. There is nothing inherently different about having two moms--other people telling him that it's different is what makes it different.

I guess this might be too late. But just wanted to say thanks. Although I haven't gone to the level you have, I try to fight the daily battle for my gay brother who is the greatest person I know. Every little bit helps and you've helped a great amount.

If you ever get to this, is there any specific site/media group you follow to stay informed about social and economic issues? I try my best to follow the news but sometimes feel like I'm not getting all of the details. Thanks again!

Yeah for sure. I get a lot of my news from the Drudge Report, the Economist and the Huffington Post. Try to cover the political spectrum there.

I also read a lot of Ezra Klein and Will Wilkinson. If you Google their names, you should be able to find their respective blogs. Two brilliant, distinctly different writers.


I iron my own shirts, do my own laundry, make my own sandwiches and put the seat down. I've been in a few drag shows.

I also drink my whiskey neat, smoke a cigar once a month or so, lift weights, was a quarterback for four years, am hairy and love videogames.

Do you feel the question of whether the legal definition of marriage should be changes to include LGBT couples is a matter of people's rights being denied, and hence to be dealt with universally at a federal level, or a matter of choosing how governmental and legal benefits are distributed, and hence to be dealt with by the states?

Basically, do you see the traditional-only definition of marriage as a huge human rights injustice or a material matter up for individual interpretation?

Great question.

I think that we have civil marriage laws to allow romantically attached couples to live their lives as a unit. (Hence the 1,138 federal legal rights, privileges, protections enumerated in a marriage license, plus the 300-600 depending on which state you live in.) Some might say it's to raise children, but this is obviously not true as married couples aren't required to raise children and infertile couples aren't banned from marriage.

So, accepting that that's why we have civil marriage laws in the first place, yes, I believe that it's discriminatory to recognize one flavor of consensual romantic commitment but not another.

Legally, the US Supreme Court has ruled on 13 separate occasions that civil marriage is a civil right, not a "benefit" or "privilege" to be doled out by the state. This is really, really important and is a large part of why I'm awfully confident that we'll see nationally-recognized SSM before too long.

I know I'm late to the party, but I wanted to tell you that your speech has made me honestly reconsider my position on this issue. You did a fantastic job. I hope mother stays well, I'll be praying for her.

This made me smile. Thank you for keeping an open mind.

it is difficult for me to understand what you are saying without translation tools.I am a Chinese student. Sorry,my English is not very well.

Hey man,

I don't know if this is actually Chinese, but I've been told it is. Hope this helps!

First off I know you've heard this loads before, but fantastic speech. I actually am in the process of writing my first term paper for my AP English class and I choose gay marriage for my topic. I plan to use excerpts from your speech to use as a counter argument for my gay and lesbian families paragraph. However I would love to hear your response to a main argument by non supporters: "Children of same-sex parents suffer from high rates of suicide, depression, drug abuse, molestation within the family, and confusion of sexual orientation"

If you have the time to answer I would be more than thrilled, but if not thanks again for your empowering speech!

Unless said opponents have a single, peer-reviewed study that explains a causal relationship between same-sex parenting and those impacts (high rates of suicide, depression, etc.) they're hard to take seriously. I've never heard of such a study and am not a big fan of anecdotal evidence. (I haven't even heard anecdotes to that effect, though.) They'd also have to show that said "rates" were higher than those for kids with mixed-gender parents and, like I said, explain why.

If you find said study, shoot me a PM, because I'd love to take a look at it.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Zach Wahls conducted on Reddit on 2011-11-30. The Reddit AMA can be found here.