MASON CITY — It’s wrong to think some kinds of love are better than others, Zach Wahls of Iowa City told an audience Sunday in Mason City.
Wahls, 21, son of two lesbian mothers, talked about his experience at a well-attended meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of North Central Iowa.
“I don’t care what your religious views are as long as you don’t inflict needless pain on those whose views are different,” Wahls said. “Nobody has a monopoly on the truth.”
Zach, who is straight, was born in July 1991 to Terry Wahls, a medical doctor then living in Wisconsin. He and his younger sister were conceived by artificial insemination.
His family moved from Wisconsin to Iowa City when Zach was in fourth grade.
It was there that he experienced bullying and verbal harassment related to his family for the first time.
As a freshman in high school, a paper he had written for a class about being a straight guy with gay parents was published as a guest column in the school paper at Iowa City West High School.
Talking about the issue “was a monumental decision for me,” he said. “It wound up being a very important moment in my life.”
In 1994, his mother met her partner, Jackie. They were married in a private ceremony of commitment in 1995.
Terry and Jackie were married again after the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. Zach got to be the best man.
“My moms are not ‘gay moms,’” he said. “It is not a gay marriage license. It is a marriage license.”
And although he grew up with two mothers, he did not lack for positive male role models, Wahls said. They included friends of his mothers, Boy Scout leaders and teachers.
“When we say it takes a village, this is what we’re talking about,” he said.
Zach Wahls became nationally known after testifying in support of marriage equality before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in January 2011.
He has appeared on numerous television programs and is the author of a book titled, “My Two Moms.”
Currently working to complete degrees in sustainability studies and environmental engineering, Wahls, who is an Eagle Scout, is also leading a national campaign with his organization, Scouts for Equality, to end the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay members.
He believes love and faith are what makes a family, a realization that really hit home through his mother Terry’s battle with multiple sclerosis.
Wahls said his mother was able to reverse the symptoms of the disease by overhauling her diet to rebuild her immune system. Her experience is chronicled in her self-published book, “Minding My Mitochondria,” a book that has gained national attention.
“I think that is the most important story our family has to tell,” Wahls said, to applause.