WASHINGTON — Zach Wahls — the former University of Iowa student whose impassioned testimony in support of marriage equality went viral last year — will serve as co-chair for “The Outspoken Generation,” the Family Equality Council’s national youth advocacy initiative involving the young adult children of LGBT parents.The Family Equality Council said the program is designed to empower young adults to raise their voices in support of LGBT families by speaking publicly at community events across the country, in front of local, state and national legislative bodies, and directly to the media
Wahls will serve as co-chair, along with Ella Robinson, daughter of Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay person to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination.
Wahls gained national attention as an LGBT advocate after his passionate speech supporting marriage equality in front of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee became the top political viral video of 2011. His new book, “My Two Moms” will be released on April 26.
Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler said the program was borne out of conversations with LGBT families over the last year.
“We are now seeing the first generation of children, who were lovingly raised by LGBT parents, coming into young adulthood,” said Chrisler.
“We know, from our conversations with these young people and from our experience with them, that they are terrific kids who are thriving and succeeding in life by any measure you choose to use. Many of them are now telling us that they are eager to tell the truth about their families. Who better to refute the myths and lies of hate groups like NOM than our grown up children?”
Wahls and Robinson will launch the Outspoken Generation’s national dialogue about LGBT families this Spring.
Wahls discusses the project here:
Robinson will serve as keynote speaker and panel participant during the Midwest Family Equality Conference in Minneapolis on April 28. She will also participate in events surrounding International Family Equality Day at the LGBT Community Center in New York on May 6.
Wahls will meet with lawmakers and Capitol Hill staffers during Family Equality Council’s federal educational event – Family Weekend in Washington – from May 17 -19. He will also serve on youth panels during Family Week in Provincetown from July 28 – Aug 4.
“I’m looking forward to working with Ella and others to dispel misconceptions about what it means to have an LGBT parent or parents,” said Wahls.
“I think it’s unfortunate that in 2012 there are still so many public figures actively pushing claims that, whether they like it or not, are simply untrue,” he said.
“I think the stories that Ella and I have to share effectively highlight the similarities that all families share, regardless of who the parents are while also explaining the challenges that are created when people like Rick Santorum or Maggie Gallagher falsely claim there is something ‘wrong’ with parents like mine and other kids like me.
“What they fail to take into consideration is the fact that the challenges we endure only exist because they insist on putting us through them by making these intellectually dishonest arguments and statements.”
The program is currently working with partner organizations to begin planning panel discussions, public appearances and policy briefings at other venues across the country.