Friday, December 23, 2011

It figures that Zach Wahls would know what's important in this holiday season


Catching up with Zach --

by Ken

Sometimes it bothers me when I find that I've written exactly the same thing as 6000 as other bloggers -- and then again sometimes it doesn't. Which is how I felt when, late in the game, I passed on the video from January of young "sixth-generation Iowan" Zack Wahls sharing with the Judiciary Committee of the Iowa House of Representatives what it's been like for him and his sister growing up in a family with two loving mothers. I titled that December 1 post "Isn't young U. of Iowa engineering student Zach Wahls the embodiment of REAL family values?," and I still can't imagine a better advertisement for the genuine article than Zach's presentation. I suspect I wasn't the only one who, on hearing about the 2000 MS diagnosis of his mom Terry, felt like part of their family.

By all accounts (including his own) Zach has been overwhelmed by the response, and in particular by the whole second life the video took on when it was circulated, even more widely, so many months later, and impressed even more of us. I look at it this way: what a shame it would have been if such a remarkable piece of witness hadn't gotten the attention it deserves.

If you didn't see Zach's testimony, or would like to see it again, here's the link, and here's some of it included in his February appearance on Ellen , with "tall mom" Terry speaking from the audience.

Zach's got a website now, and a blog, and a book in the works, My Two Moms, with an April 26 release date. (Amazon and Barnes and Noble are accepting pre-orders.) I think you'll be interested in what he has to say on his home page:

The Reger-Wahls family -- "Short Mom" Jackie Reger,
Zach, sister Zebby, and "Tall Mom" Terry Wahls

I spent hours writing, editing and re-working the testimony I delivered to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee.

Before that, I had spent nearly four years competing in, coaching and judging speech and debate. (And my Tall Mom says that I’ve been talking ever since I was born.)

But even after all that preparation, literally years and years of it, nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming reaction that has enveloped me in the wake of that fateful January night.

Ultimately, my testimony failed to have the impact I was hoping for. The Iowa House approved House Joint Resolution Six on a 62-27 vote, although it appears unlikely to clear the Iowa Senate. The impact is has since had, however, is beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

A video of the testimony has accumulated over 1.5 million hits on YouTube, been broadcasted on CNN, MSNBC, Good Morning America and even landed me interviews on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and the Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. (And I hear that it has received heavy circulation internationally as well.) Odds are, that video, in some way or another, brought you here. It’s been unreal.

There are more projects in the works, though, at this moment, I can’t talk a whole lot about them. (They’re pretty exciting, though!) Make sure to check back for various updates and more information as they start to take shape.

Above all, however, I want to thank you–all of you–for the enormous amount of support and good will that I’ve received in the weeks and months following my speech. I know a lot of people found my words to be inspiring, but whatever inspiration I could have individually affected pales to the collective generosity, optimism and all around awesomeness that has been sent my way by all of you. It has truly been the most humbling and inspiring experience of my life.

A recent poll confirmed that, for the first time in American history, a majority of us support full marriage equality.

There is no doubt in my mind that it is getting better.

I find it fascinating how much preparation had gone into Zach's preparing to be ready for "his moment" when it came. Boy, did it show!

Now Zach has pitched in with the folks to produce the above Love Makes a Family video, and he hopes we'll all pass it on as widely as we can. I'm not about to say no to him.
Wow. YouTube said on Monday that more people watched me speak about my two moms than any other political video this year. More than 18 million people in total!1

Testifying before Iowa's state legislature was the best way I knew to fight back against attempts to codify discrimination into our state constitution and protect my moms' marriage. But I never imagined that my speech would touch a chord with so many people.

Frankly, I've been overwhelmed and humbled. And most importantly, I've been inspired that so many strangers care about protecting my family and families like mine. So to spread that inspiration this holiday season, MoveOn members have joined me in creating a new online project: Love Makes a Family. Hundreds of families of all stripes have sent in Love Makes a Family holiday photos and we've put together a great video featuring them.

I'm strong enough to admit that I choked up a little watching it. Check out the video and share it with your friends and family today to help make sure that all families are treated equally in 2012.

One of the things that I have learned along this amazing journey is how simple acts like sharing a video have a huge effect on people. I've gotten so many emails from people who saw my speech and were moved so much by it that they changed their perspective on marriage equality. Simply put, love opened their hearts.

It's why I am so excited about this Love Makes a Family video. We can touch people's hearts and change the conversation about equality for all families with something as easy as hitting share on Facebook. Can you help me change a few more hearts by sharing the video right now?

Thanks for spreading love this holiday season.

Zach Wahls

P.S. I've been so honored that so many people shared the video of my testimony, and I'm working overtime to finish my book about all of this, appropriately titled "My Two Moms" -- please check it out!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home