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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Columns

Zach Wahls speaks on gay marriage at UH


Tuesday evening, Zach Wahls came to the University Center to talk about his moms. This was a guy who’d spoken before the Iowan Supreme Court when he was 19 years old, on virtually every major national news syndicate by 21, and the Democratic National Convention only a couple of months ago.

In hindsight, his audience at UH had to have been underwhelming in comparison. He had about 70,000 fewer people in attendance.

But he handled it well enough. He told jokes, talked about his childhood and spoke at length about the security a documented marriage provides. He championed love over hate, and the importance of placing intelligent discourse over ignorance.

The topic of marriage equality is unique among the country’s other hot-buttons in that its variables aren’t just social, but challenge standards many believe are biblical.

When you raise a finger in opposition, you come into conflict with someone’s world view. Legalizing marijuana and challenging the use of contraception is one thing, but challenging the interior of an institution’s societal framework is another.

Wahls made it clear that he had no intention of challenging anyone’s philosophy. Whether they agreed with the decision made by his mothers, their advocates and thousands of Americans wasn’t something that concerned him. If anything, it was better for those in opposition to hone their own opinions than latch onto his for the wrong reasons. This indifference towards personal grievances was something he had no intention of changing.

What he did care about was the Golden Rule. It’s a foreign tongue among media pundits, but it’s been road tested. The idea that an individual — regardless of their race or gender — should be treated respectfully by another individual was strong enough to repeal decrees in this country. It’s been the foreground of change for hundreds of years.

We discovered the lack of land ownership didn’t necessarily make you a martian.  Women weren’t just dis-proportioned mannequins. African-American, Hispanic and Chinese citizens weren’t just useful in positions of duress, but could function as coherent members of society too. Any member of these groups might actually do something for the country that was worthwhile.

Wahls argued that this vehicle for progress was still being driven. It plowed through North Carolina during the summer. The tracks ran through Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesotaa little more than a week ago. It’s current trajectory, has become less a question of “if”, and one of “when.” Whether on America’s television sets or an un-swept conference hall at your university, it’s not slowing down.

Bryan Washington is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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