Zach Wahls, lesbian couple’s son, wins Iowa senate seat
Zach Wahls, who as a teenager campaigned for his lesbian mothers’ right to marry, has been elected to the Iowa State Senate.
The Democratic Party candidate won 78 percent of the vote, defeating libertarian Carl Krambeck, in Iowa’s Senate District 37 in the US midterm elections 2018 on Tuesday (November 6), local news outlet Iowa City Press-Citizen reports.
The 27-year-old LGBT rights advocate becomes one of the state’s youngest senators.
“I hope tonight marks a fresh start for Iowa. We must all come together to bring real reform to our health care system, restore a tradition of excellence to our public education system and raise incomes for Iowa’s working families,” Wahls said in a statement on Tuesday night, quoted by The Huffington Post. “It’s time to start thinking about the future of our state again.”
Who is Zach Wahls?
Wahls is an American activist who stands up for LGBT rights. The new Iowa State Senator-elect is the son of a lesbian couple, and he stood up for his mothers’ LGBT rights in a speech that went viral.
Wahls rose to prominence in 2011 when, aged 19, he stood before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee and urged Republicans to scrap their plans to push a constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex unions, which had been legalised in 2009.
“Our family really isn’t so different from any other Iowa family,” the University of Iowa student said at the time.
His speech was immortalised in a video that amassed almost 2 million views in two weeks.
“You know, when I’m home we go to church together; we eat dinner; we go on vacations. … We’re Iowans. We don’t expect anyone to solve our problems for us. We’ll fight our own battles. We just hope for equal and fair treatment from our government,” he then added.
Wahls became the Democratic Party nominee to the Iowa Senate seat in June, when he won 59.6 percent of the vote—well above his nearest competitor, Janice Weiner, who earned 34.8 percent of the public poll.
Iowa’s Senate District 37 seat was previously held unopposed by Democrat Robert Dvorsky, who did not stand for re-election.
“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 upon winning the nomination earlier this year.
“It means a lot to me the community is trusting me with that leadership role,” he added.
Wahls is also known as one of the campaigners who pushed for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts. Himself an Eagle Scout, he founded the group Scouts for Equality to lobby for the change, which he celebrated as a “historic step.”
“In proposing to allow local charter organisations to decide whether or not they’ll include gay youth and leaders within their ranks, the Boy Scouts of America has taken a historic step forward, and I applaud their bravery in doing so,” Wahls said, commenting on the organisation’s decision in 2012.