Back in 2011, before marriage equality became a national right, 19-year-old Zach Wahls went viral after defending his two queer mothers in the Iowa House of Representatives. Now, Wahls is back, this time in a bid to enter the Iowa state Senate.
Wahls, enrolled in the University of Iowa as an engineering student at the time, originally spoke to the House’s Judiciary Committee after senators considered passing a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions. In that plea, Wahls stressed that his family is pretty similar to others in Iowa, and that queer families will continue to exist whether Iowa bans the amendment or not.
“My family really isn’t so different from yours,” Wahls said in 2011. “After all, your family doesn’t derive its sense of worth from being told by the state, ‘you’re married, congratulations.’ No, the sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other, to work through the hard times so we can enjoy the good ones.”
Since then, Wahls has bolstered his activist resume, serving on the board of directors for Scouts for Equality and writing a book about growing up with lesbian mothers. And last week, he announced he’s running for the Iowa State Senate in the 2018 general election.
“Remember that young man from Iowa who spoke to the Iowa legislature a few years ago about growing up with two moms?” Wahls tweeted on Thursday. “That was me—and today, I’m announcing my campaign to join the Iowa legislature.”
IOWA — Remember that young man from Iowa who spoke to the Iowa legislature a few years ago about growing up with two moms? Hi. That was me — and today, I'm announcing my campaign to join the Iowa legislature. I hope you'll support our campaign. https://t.co/jrEleWPyWk— Zach Wahls (@ZachWahls) December 21, 2017
No state in the country had a bigger swing from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016 than Iowa did. Iowa Republicans took over our state legislature and immediately began to dismantle our state's social foundation.— Zach Wahls (@ZachWahls) December 21, 2017
On health care: our state is experiencing a mental health crisis, and Iowa ranks dead last in the county — 51st! — in terms of public psychiatric beds per capita. Suicide rates are spiking in our rural communities, and Republicans are shutting down mental health facilities.— Zach Wahls (@ZachWahls) December 21, 2017
Wahls plans to run as a Democrat in Senate District 37, which will have an open seat after Sen. Bob Dvorsky (D) retires. And based on Wahls’ opening remarks, it’s clear he’s planning an aggressive campaign against the Republican Party.
“It’s been difficult watching Republicans hollow out Iowa’s social foundation and, to me, it seems like we’re really at a crossroads between a situation where it’s every man, woman and child for him or herself and getting back to the morals that have defined this state,” Wahls told the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
Wahls is currently fundraising for his campaign via Crowdpac. Set with a $35,000 goal, he’s already crowdsourced over $32,000, with donations coming in hourly.