In 2011, Zach Wahls, a then 19-year-old Iowa resident and UU, made national news for his comments to the Iowa House of Representatives against a resolution that would overturn marriage equality for same-gender couples in Iowa. The YouTube video of his speech became 2011’s most watched political clip with over two million views.
On April 22, 2012, the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City presented Wahls with a Courageous Love Award. In their award announcement, the congregation cited Wahls’s ongoing work for marriage equality and said, “Zach has been inspirational in his conviction and action.”
The Iowa City Press-Citizen covered the event.
At the service Sunday morning, the award presentation prompted a standing ovation among the audience, including [Zach Wahls’s] mothers, who still attend the church, which eventually broke into loud cheers. ['Iowa City church recognizes Wahls, 20-year-old receives Courageous Love award from Unitarian Universalist Society']
Last year, in an email to Standing on the Side of Love supporters, Wahls said: “I am humbled that someone thought my family’s story might be an inspiration to others across the country and have been truly touched by the outpouring of support not just for my family, but for families like mine all across the world.” He also honored the Courageous Love of his mothers:
The courageous love I want to honor is that of my two moms – Terry and Jackie. Together for 15 years, they created a loving family for my sister and me, despite living in a culture that doesn’t always treat them, or their love, as equal. In 2009, the year marriage discrimination ended in Iowa, they finally were able to get married. As my moms’ best man, I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life. Two years later, I had the opportunity to share my story and to my utter surprise, millions of people responded. I hope you’ll share yours too.
Wahls’s 2011 testimony is only one example of his advocacy and witness on the side of love. He went on to become a Huffington Post ‘Gay Voices’ blogger, write a book about his family, and co-chair the Family Equality Council’s national advocacy program for young adult children of LGBT families (“The Outspoken Generation”) with Ella Robinson, daughter of Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.
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Know someone whose words and deeds exemplify the values of inclusion, diversity, community, and equality? Share your story of Courageous Love.
Want to give a Courageous Love Award of your own? You can download a certificate here!