Saturday is the fourth anniversary of our state's recognition of same-sex marriage. Four years ago, as an editor of Iowa City West High School’s The West Side Story and the proud son of a lesbian couple, I predicted that defending same-sex marriage was "political suicide" for Iowa Democrats. A lot has changed in four years. I'm glad that my moms taught me early on just how important it is to admit when you're wrong, because my prediction was way off the mark.

Today, not only do Iowa Democrats still hold the Senate, but after the 2012 elections, all talk of a constitutional amendment has faded to whispers at the fringe. Even Rep. Steve King has admitted that marriage equality is probably here to stay in the Hawkeye State.

And it turns out I'm not the only not the only one surprised by the change in public opinion. Nationally, Democratic politicians have been tripping over themselves to reverse their position on this issue: our President openly supports same-sex marriage, his party has codified its support into the Democratic platform and every serious Democratic 2016 presidential contender has endorsed the recognition of my moms' marriage.

Like I said, a lot has changed in four years.

But as important and meaningful as this date is to my family and thousands of others, it’s also a reminder, to families like mine, of what hasn't changed.

Even though my moms' relationship is legally recognized by our state, they are still ignored by the federal government. When our family travels, my moms still have to worry about other states failing to acknowledge their legal union. And as federal employees — both of my moms work for the Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa city — my parents still face an array of other legal and tax-related challenges not endured by male-female couples.

This spring will be a momentous one for families like mine. There will, of course, be the annual tributes we’ve celebrated for years like Mothers' Day in May. (And yes, I know where the apostrophe goes.) But this year, with millions of others, we’ll be holding our breath in June when the United States Supreme Court will rule on two groundbreaking cases addressing marriage equality.

I know when the justices consider these cases they will see the faces of so many American families just like mine. After all, nearly 20 years after the initial debates surrounding the federal Defense of Marriage Act, families like mine are no longer oddities universally regarded as social experiments--and for good reason. Like all other Iowa families, we had chores to do growing up, we had groceries to buy and smoke detector batteries to change. Like most people do, we went to church, we took vacations and every now and again, we fought about one thing or another and had to apologize for things we said.

Four years ago, the Iowa State Supreme Court did the right thing by recognizing the love and commitment of parents like mine and extending to them the freedom to marry. That decision has made Iowa proud, but its truth will ring hollow in a nation that fails to see what we see if the United States Supreme Court rules the wrong way in June.

But I don't think they will. I believe the justices will see the American heartland I grew up in. It’s a place where families celebrate one another and pitch in when there’s a crisis. It’s a place where spirit, values and heart are what makes a family--not a rigid worldview.

It isn't easy, acknowledging when the world looks different from how you thought it would, or should. But changing opinions reflect a changing world, when we have the courage to see the world as it is and not just see it as we are. The world has changed a lot in four years, and I'm confident the Supreme Court will have the courage to change with it.

Zach Wahls, of Iowa City, is a sixth-generation Iowan, a bestselling author and a nationally recognized advocate for marriage equality.

(10) comments

pta mom

Jeanjaqie: you do realize that if every family on earth was Duggar-size, we'd be doomed. Similarly, if everyone was a farmer, we'd also all die.

Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui
Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui

Same-sex marriage is an injustice, a tyrannical ploy being perpetrated upon our society, the pernicious consequences of which are simply mocked and laughed at by its supporters. Ignorance and prejudice have taken the place of knowledge and reason. Caprice and passion substituted for prudence and virtue. The happiness of society, the good of all families, and the welfare of mankind fall victim to the injustice of selfish adult love, which calculates every thing for itself, while taking no notice of a child's best interest or the public advantage of a government promoting ONLY the traditional family unit.

Same-sex marriage is antithetical to the Rule of Law, for the principle object of laws in general is to correct bad inclinations, to prevent vicious habits, to hinder their effects, and to eradicate the passions; or at least to contain them within proper limits. Same-sex marriage makes an implicit statement that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, and that sex is irrelevant to parenting. Once same-sex marriage becomes legally and socially acceptable, more women will decide to raise children together. Teen aged boys without fathers are at risk for juvenile delinquency, violence, criminal activity, gang membership, and incarceration. Teen aged girls without fathers are at risk for early sexual activity, multiple sex partners, out of wedlock pregnancies, and sexually transmitted disease.

Same-sex marriage is perfectly contrary to the principle of marriage, having more resemblance to divorce and adultery, same-sex marriage purposely separates a child from at least one biological parent, thereby creating broken homes, not as a matter of extraordinary circumstances, but as routine. Same-sex marriage proponents callously ignore a child's Natural Right to know, and be raised by, both biological parents, and make the most preposterous and pretentious claim that marriage was instituted by civil society primarily for the benefit of any two loving adults. Take away Natural Laws, and that moral tie which supports justice and honesty in a whole nation and establishes also particular duties in families, or in other relations of life; and man becomes the most savage and ferocious of all animals,licentiousness becomes the consequence of independence.

Here are two truths regarding marriage: (1) A man creating a family with another man is not equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.

Same-sex marriage couples selfishly demand “Marriage Equality”, yet, in return, they offer LESS-THAN-EQUAL protection of the child’s happiness than can be afforded through the presence of both biological parents. In the name of "Marriage Equality", same-sex marriage leaves the child fully aware that his family is, in all truth, not at all "equal", natural, nor complete. The use of the term "marriage equality" by same-sex marriage proponents selfishly ignores the child's perspective of "equality".

Same-sex marriage proponents profess that it is love which gives the right to join the institution of marriage, yet, in doing so, they selfishly violate the principle LOVING objective of this noble institution; to protect a child’s Natural Right to be raised by both biological parents.

In fine, same-sex marriage surmounts to nothing more than an unnatural extravagance which the supporters most ignorantly claim to be a “right”.

“No one has a right to do that which, if everybody did it, would destroy society.” ---Immanuel Kant


Gay couples could adopt in Iowa before the supreme court decision, so your whole rant is pointless. But to further counter your point, studies consistently show that same sex couples parenting is not worse in any demonstrable way. Single parenting is far worse than same sex or opposite sex couple parenting, so if you really have a bone to pick, its with pre-marital sex, not ssm. The rest of your baseless assertions (objective evil, etc.) are insulting and show you as the bigot you are.

I've asked many people this and have yet to hear a good response: how will someone's same sex marriage affect anyone's opposite sex marriage I'm any way shape or form?

Comment deleted.

Welcome to the losing side of the argument. You are like my racist grandfather who thought black people shouldn't be allowed to marry white people. History will (and already is) laugh at your morally bankrupt and backward way of thinking. You lose.


What a fine young man. A son any mom would be proud of.

Gaius Baltar

or, perhaps even a father. Oh that's right, Zach's "moms" saw to it that he doesn't have one, except for the true Father above.


The right wing "Christian" nuts in Iowa committed an atrocity with their campaign to remove supreme court judges a few years ago for their (unanimous) decision on the gay marriage bill, and now some of them are proposing to cut the salaries of the judges that remain.

Zach outshines them all.

Hear, hear


Like, Like

pta mom

You are amazing, Zach!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.