LGBTQ Rights Activist Zach Wahls Wins Iowa Primary

Wahls went viral in 2011 as a 19-year-old college student for his moving marriage equality speech defending his lesbian mothers

Updated 06/07/18

Araya Diaz

Just four days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case that came as a setback to the LGBTQ community, activist and gay marriage supporter Zach Wahls is making waves in Iowa.

Wahls originally rose to prominence in 2011 as a 19-year-old student at the University of Iowa, when he delivered a moving speech at a public forum, defending his two gay mothers and his upbringing in order to oppose an anti-gay marriage legislation.

"In my 19 years, not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple," he argued during his delivery. "And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character."

Now, seven years later, the 26-year-old is on his way to potentially becoming one of Iowa's youngest political leaders, according to CNN. Last night, Wahls won the Democratic primary in Iowa's 37th District, landing almost 60 percent of the vote. He'll be up against libertarian Carl Krambeck for the Senate seat this November, but according to The Gazette, this specific district is "heavily-Democratic." The Iowa native publicly declared his campaign via Twitter in December 2017.

"I think it’s a sign people here are hungry for new blood in the Iowa legislature and are ready for the next generation of leadership," Wahls said Tuesday, per The Gazette. "It means a lot to me [that] the community is trusting me with that leadership role." If elected, his term would begin January.

The LGBTQ activist also issued a statement on social media, detailing his gratitude and reflecting on his now-famous 2011 speech. "When I delivered my speech defending same-sex marriage back in 2011, I had no idea it would one day lead me back to the Iowa legislature," he wrote. "Our campaign marks a new generation of leadership in Iowa politics, and I am proud to have worked alongside so many young people in breaking primary turnout records in our district and across the state."

Best of luck to Zach Wahls during the election process, and we have no doubt he has plenty more well-versed speeches to lead him to political victory. As he acknowledged in his Twitter statement, this win would mark a huge shift within the state of Iowa.

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