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  • Zach: Good evening. Mr. Chairman. My name is Zach Wahls.

  • I'm a sixth generation Iowan, and an engineering student at the University of Iowa,

  • and I was raised by two women.

  • My biological mom, Terry, told her grandparents that she was pregnant, that the artificial insemination had worked,

  • and they wouldn't even acknowledge it.

  • It actually wasn't until I was born, and they succumb to my infantile cuteness,

  • that they broke down and told her that they were thrilled to have another grandson.

  • Unfortunately neither of them lived to see her marry her partner, Jackie, of 15 years when they wed in 2009.

  • My younger sister, and only sibling, was born in 1994.

  • We actually have the same anonymous donor so we're full siblings, which is really cool for me.

  • Um, you know, and I guess the point is that 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.

  • But you know, we have our hard times too, we get in fights.

  • Um, you know, actually my mom Terry was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000.

  • It is a devastating disease that put her in a wheelchair. So we've had our struggles.

  • But you know, we're Iowan's.

  • 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.

  • Being a student at the University of Iowa, the topic of same sex marriage comes up quite frequently in classroom discussions.

  • You know, and the questions always comes down to, "Well, can gays even raise kids?"

  • And the question, the conversation gets quiet for a moment, because most people don't really have an answer.

  • And then I raise my hand and say, "Actually I was raised by a gay couple, and I'm doing pretty well."

  • I scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT, I'm actually an Eagle scout. I own and operate my own small business.

  • If I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I'd make you very proud.

  • I'm not really so different from any of your children. My family really isn't so different from yours.

  • After all, your family doesn't derive it's sense of worth from being told by the state, "You're married. Congratulations!"

  • No. The sense of family comes from the committment we make to each other:

  • to work through the hard times, so we can enjoy the good ones.

  • It comes from the love that binds us.

  • That's what makes a family.

  • So what you're voting here isn't to change us.

  • It's not to change our families.

  • it's to change how the law views us; how the law treats us.

  • You are voting for the first time, in the history of our state, to codify discrimination into our constitution.

  • A constiution, that but for the purposed amendment, is the least amended constitution in the United States of America.

  • You are telling Iowans that "Some among you are second class citizens

  • who do not have the right to marry the person you love."

  • So will this vote affect my family? Would it affect yours?

  • Over the next two hours, I'm sure we're going to hear plenty of testimony

  • about how damaging having gay parents is on kids.

  • But in my 19 years, not once have I ever been confronted by an individual

  • who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple. And you know why?

  • Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.

  • Thank you very much.

Zach: Good evening. Mr. Chairman. My name is Zach Wahls.

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