Pursuit of Happiness: We all deserve same rights, regardless of sexual orientation

Maya Amjadi/News Editor

“Gay people don’t have tentacles or horns.

There’s nothing to be afraid of,” said Zach Wahls, University of Iowa engineering student.

Monday he gave a talk sponsored by the high school groups, Harmony and PRISM.

Wahls and his younger sister were raised by two moms, and he appeared in front of the Iowa State Legislature in February to give testimony against passing an Iowa constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and civil unions.

He has been traveling all over the country, talking to people and sharing his story since then.

But really this issue isn’t about gay marriage.

It is about marriage.

“They don’t have a gay marriage license.

They have a marriage license.

We don’t have a gay house or drive a gay car, and we don’t have a gay dog,” Wahls said speaking about his own mothers.

There is no reason to not allow same-sex couples the right to marry; it is discrimination.

Marriage is an inalienable right provided in the Declaration of Independence.

All other rights detailed in the Constitution are secondary to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to which marriage uncompromisingly falls under.

There are 1084 benefits married couples receive, however, Wahls’ moms are not eligible for most of them at the federal level.

“If something would have happened to my tall mom, Jackie, my shorter mom, Terry, wouldn’t have the biological rights to us.

We [would have gone] to our crazy uncles,” Wahls said.

When Wahls woke up the morning after he appeared in front of the Iowa Legislature, he had over 300 emails, 500 friend requests and 20,000 hits on the Youtube posting.

“As I’m pouring coffee, the phone rings and it’s CBS. They want to know if I can come on their live show [to talk],” Wahls said.

He also appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show, which he said was more intimidating than the entire Iowa Legislature.

“It’s always the thing that happens to someone else, but to everybody else, you are somebody else,” Wahls said.

The response over the Internet to Wahls’ speech was exciting, even reassuring, but there is still a long way to go.

Wahls said, “You cannot underestimate the power that each person in this room has.

There is supreme strength in each of us to change the world around us.”

The definition of marriage has changed over time.

Traditional marriage was instigated as a way of sealing deals and gaining land.

It was an arranged way to confirm property and power.

Only a few centuries ago did marriage stand on a new foundation of love for a partner rather than an organized interest of the parents.

By the 1940s and 1950s, state courts were repealing laws that prevented certain cases of marriage.

In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for states to prohibit interracial marriage, and in 1987, it defended the right of prison inmates to marry.

When striking down California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, Judge Vaughn said, “Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.”

Many people argue that they should be allowed to vote on the same-sex marriage proposal.

However, judges are cloaked because they have studied the Constitution, and it is their duty to uphold its laws.

Never in history would a minority ever survive if put to a vote by the general public.

If blacks’ freedom would have been put to a general vote, there would still to this day be slaves.

Alabama was the last state to finally except that people of different races did have the right to marry, and that was in 2000. Even in that election, over 40 percent voted to keep the ban.

As Wahls stated, we do not live in a theocracy.

“I would appreciate if you didn’t use my God to justify your intolerance,” Wahls said.

He is religious and believes the highest love is loving others, as is stated in the Bible.

If God didn’t like gay people, why would he keep making so many of them?

Wahls took off time from school because this is a very important cause.

“If you’re not willing to meet someone where he is, there is no way for both of you to move forward,” Wahls said.

Wahls’ extremely effective speaking skills surely had an impact on this audience in the classroom.

He has shown legislators and students alike that marriage isn’t about being gay or being straight.

It’s about being human and having equal rights under the law.

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