Last February, when 19-year-old Zach Wahls stood up in front of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee to testify in favor of same sex marriage, he never could have guessed the response that his speech would elicit.
When TakePart talked to Zach Wahls earlier this week, he was reeling from President Barack Obama’s announcement in support of marriage equality. “Sorry if I sound jittery,” Wahls said, “this is just so incredibly exciting.”
Back in February, the excitement was all about Wahls. The dutiful son of a lesbian couple did his two moms proud and presented himself—a bright, articulate engineering student and Eagle Scout—to Iowa lawmakers as evidence that same sex parents are absolutely capable of raising amazing children.
His closing zinger: “If I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe you would be very proud,” lit up the Internet with virtual high-fives (and Facebook shares).
After 18 million hits on YouTube—with visits to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and MSNBC along the way—Wahls has become a spokesperson for the issue.
“It’s a very delicate place to be personally,” says Wahls, “because the last thing I want to be seen as is a straight person trying to co-opt the LGBT movement. It’s a fine line to walk, but it is a unique opportunity.”
As Zach is (by TakePart estimations) the best son ever, we asked him for a few pointers on how he handles Mother’s Day.
TakePart: Does your family have any Mother’s Day traditions?
Zach Wahls: Yes, although we haven’t done them recently, because I haven’t been home, and things have been crazy. But, historically my sister and I have made both of our moms breakfast in bed.
John Stewart joked, “Oh, great, now everything that any of us do for our mothers is going to pale in comparison. You wrote your mothers a book.”
What we made kind of changed when my mom’s diet changed, but that is a whole different story. Our meal of choice is pancakes, bacon and fruit salad.
TakePart: Double the mom count; double the stress? Or is Mother’s Day a breeze?
Zach Wahls: Double the stress, for sure. Also double the reward once you get going.
TakePart: Do tall mom and short mom get the same gifts, or do you mix it up?
Zach Wahls: We usually mix it up. They are two very different women. Jackie spends a lot of time mountain biking. Terry spends a lot of time reading. So we usually get them both breakfast in bed, and then the gifts we vary.
TakePart: Many of us hope to make our moms proud for Mother’s Day. How have yours responded to your recent fame and advocacy work?
Zach Wahls: They are both incredibly proud. John Stewart joked, “Oh, great, now everything that any of us do for our mothers is going to pale in comparison. You wrote your mothers a book.” And, yeah, that’s fair.
They are both very proud, as I imagine any parent would be in this situation.
TakePart: Any advice on making Mother’s Day special for moms?
Zach Wahls: I think that the most important thing that you can do to celebrate moms is to recognize all of the effort—the blood, sweat, toil, and tears that they put in all those other 364 days of the year, and all of those years before then, to be there for you.
Obviously, my moms are enormously important in my development. They’ve been here the whole time. They really are rocks of support in my life and very foundational to who I am as a person.
Zach Wahls’s memoir, My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family, is available now at Amazon.
How do you define what makes a family? Scroll down and leave your formula in comments.