Iowa man who delivered viral speech defending lesbian moms wins state Senate seat

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The Iowa man who went viral for delivering a powerful speech defending his lesbian mothers in 2011 has been elected to the state Senate.

Democrat Zach Wahls, 27, won a landslide victory over his Libertarian opponent Carl Krambeck with 78.5 per cent of the vote for Iowa District 37 on Tuesday.

He was just 19 when he jump-started his career by sharing a moving speech before Iowa lawmakers in 2011 on being raised by two lesbian mothers. His message was an effort to fight House Joint Resolution 6, a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

He’ll be one of the youngest people to serve as a state senator in Iowa.

Democrat Zach Wahls, 27, won Iowa District 37 with 78.5 per cent of the vote on Tuesday

Democrat Zach Wahls, 27, won Iowa District 37 with 78.5 per cent of the vote on Tuesday

Wahls rose to fame when he was just a 19-year-old engineering student delivering a speech before Iowa lawmakers in 2011 fighting against House Joint Resolution 6, a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Wahls pictured above celebrating his landslide victory on Tuesday

Wahls rose to fame when he was just a 19-year-old engineering student delivering a speech before Iowa lawmakers in 2011 fighting against House Joint Resolution 6, a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Wahls pictured above celebrating his landslide victory on Tuesday

Wahls rose to fame when he was just a 19-year-old engineering student delivering a speech before Iowa lawmakers in 2011 fighting against House Joint Resolution 6, a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Wahls pictured above celebrating his landslide victory on Tuesday

The 27-year-old Democrat will be one of the youngest people to serve in Iowa's state Senate. Wahls pictured above celebrating his victory on Tuesday

The 27-year-old Democrat will be one of the youngest people to serve in Iowa's state Senate. Wahls pictured above celebrating his victory on Tuesday

The 27-year-old Democrat will be one of the youngest people to serve in Iowa’s state Senate. Wahls pictured above celebrating his victory on Tuesday

On Wednesday in a statement he announced he's the first person to be elected to an American state legislature to have been raised by openly LGBTQ parents

On Wednesday in a statement he announced he's the first person to be elected to an American state legislature to have been raised by openly LGBTQ parents

On Wednesday in a statement he announced he’s the first person to be elected to an American state legislature to have been raised by openly LGBTQ parents

Wahls’ campaign is focused on lowering the cost of healthcare, improving education, defending workers’ rights and boosting gun reform legislation. 

On Wednesday he shared a statement thanking his followers saying: ‘I am honored to have the support and trust of so many people across this district.’

‘I have been informed that I appear to be the first person ever elected to an American state legislature to have been raised by openly LGBTQ parents. This moment is a marker of how far and how fast families like ours have come,’ he said.

‘As a state senator, I will fight for everyone who, like my family, has been left out or left behind or used as a political target. I will never forget how hard our family had to work to get a seat at the table, and I will never stop fighting for you or your family,’ he added. 

In his 2011 viral speech Wahls defended his mothers Jacqueline Reger (left) and Terry Wahls (right), pictured together in 2012 in New York City

In his 2011 viral speech Wahls defended his mothers Jacqueline Reger (left) and Terry Wahls (right), pictured together in 2012 in New York City

In his 2011 viral speech Wahls defended his mothers Jacqueline Reger (left) and Terry Wahls (right), pictured together in 2012 in New York City

He said: 'Our family really isn't so different from any other Iowa family...The sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character'

He said: 'Our family really isn't so different from any other Iowa family...The sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character'

He said: ‘Our family really isn’t so different from any other Iowa family…The sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character’

Wahls was an engineering student at the University of Iowa when he delivered his impassioned 2011 speech before the Iowa House Judiciary committee, detailing his upbringing by his mothers Terry and Jacqueline, who married in 2009.

‘Our family really isn’t so different from any other Iowa family. You know, when I’m home we go to church together, we eat dinner, we go on vacations,’ he said in the speech. 

‘The sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character,’ he added. 

On Tuesday he thanked his state for winning him Iowa District 37 with 78.5 per cent of the vote

On Tuesday he thanked his state for winning him Iowa District 37 with 78.5 per cent of the vote

On Tuesday he thanked his state for winning him Iowa District 37 with 78.5 per cent of the vote

He shared this statement on Wednesday saying: 'I am honored to have the support and trust of so many people across this district' 

He shared this statement on Wednesday saying: 'I am honored to have the support and trust of so many people across this district' 

He shared this statement on Wednesday saying: ‘I am honored to have the support and trust of so many people across this district’ 

He recounted that when his biological mother, Terry Wahls, told her grandparents that she had gotten pregnant after an artificial insemination, his grandparents didn’t acknowledge the pregnancy until after he was born and his ‘infantile cuteness’ won them over. 

His viral speech has racked up over 19million views. In 2011 it was the most watched political video of the year. 

In the years following Wahls became an advocate for LGBTQ right and co-founded Scouts for Equality, a nonprofit that successfully ended the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay leaders and members. 

In 2013 he wrote the book ‘My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family’.

He announced he was running for office last year.   



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