It’s been a whirlwind few months (or year and a half, really) for former and future University of Iowa student Zach Wahls, 20. Whether he was appearing on the Daily Show to promote his new book or delivering a petition challenging the Boy Scouts of America on its anti-gay membership policy, Wahls has kept popping up in the national media, even a year after his speech to the Iowa House of Representatives in support of gay marriage that went viral.
Wahls took some time on Sunday to give Iowa City Patch an update on how things have been going.
Editor’s Note: This is an abridged and edited version of the original interview.
Iowa City Patch: First of all, can you go over a little of what you were doing in Iowa today (Sunday)?
Zach Wahls: Yeah, I’m out here today at Capitol City Pride, obviously the largest pride festival in Iowa, and we actually just finished marching in the parade — I was with the Obama for America float — then I spoke on the stage, just focusing about how important it is to keep moving forward on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) equality. Obviously the fight isn’t over, with some of these rights there are still a long way to go.
Iowa City Patch: I saw you delivered the petition signatures to the Boy Scouts of America recently as well. What areas are you trying to focus on in your advocacy?
Wahls: So obviously that’s a project that hits very close to home for me, being an Eagle Scout and the son of a lesbian couple. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s long overdue for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to end that policy. And this is a great example of exactly what I’m talking about, where even when you have some of these legal rights — like we have legal gay marriage in Iowa — even when you have that established, there’s still a lot left to accomplish.
Although, to be frank, my biggest concern with the BSA is not forcing it to change its policy or what have you. My concern is that if the BSA doesn’t change it’s policy that it will lose its cultural relevancy in this country, and if it does that, you will have an entire generation of young men who will be deprived of that experience. For somebody for whom that was a defining experience, that’s certainly not something I want to see happen.
Iowa City Patch: So you’re saying you’re trying to convince them to change for their own sake?
Wahls: That’s totally how I view the situation.
Iowa City Patch: Are you officially campaigning for the Obama campaign or is this sort of a combination of interests?
Wahls: I am out here just to show my support for the president — I’m not working for his campaign or anything like that. Obviously, barring some catastrophic change between now and November I will be voting for the president (laughs).
I think when especially when it comes to the issue of LGBT rights, you really couldn’t have a clearer distinction. You have on the one hand a candidate who in 1994 said he was on the left of Ted Kennedy but today opposes civil unions, and then you have a candidate who went through a very public, very personal evolution on the subject, and then supported full marriage equality.