|Interview : Zach Wahls|
Zach Wahls came to fame when his 2011 speech in front of the Iowa House went viral. Since then he has continued his activism on behave of the LGBT community. Presently he is speaking for the Obama & Biden campaign, as well as, Scouts for Equality and promoting his book My Two Moms.
What brought you to Obama/Biden's campaign?
Back in 2007, when this whole thing was getting off the ground, I had a lot of friends that worked for the Obama campaign. But I didn't jump on the band wagon until a little bit later. When it came to this re-election campaign, I don't think the choice could be any more clear. On one hand is a candidate who in 1994 said he was going to run to the left of Ted Kennedy with LGBT rights, and today is actually to the right of George W. Bush. So in terms of what's best, for folks like my moms, or the LGBT community. We have the choice between President Obama, who has been the single most successful president—in terms of advancing LGBT rights and is the first President to endorse marriage equality. Then you have a guy who doesn't really know where he stands, and will stand where it is politically convenient to be. And knowing that we have that kind of choice, I knew if there was anything that I could do to support the President, I was down.
Are you doing speaking just in Iowa, for the Iowa campaign, or are you doing national speaking engagements?
No, just this past Saturday I was in Columbus, Ohio. At the second largest Pride out there. And I am going to be in Chicago this weekend for their Pride.
What do you think Obama will do for the LGBT community and to further equality if he is re-elected?
A large part of that is going to come down to the extent in which Congress is willing to play nice. Unfortunately that’s something we've obviously seen has not been the case since 2010. I think if President Obama is re-elected, the single largest thing that he can do for the community is making sure we have a Supreme Court that is not packed with Right Wing Conservatives. Obviously he’s appointed Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan, and if any of the five conservative Justices step down, that would be the best opportunity to bring the court back to a more moderate judicial stance. That's going to be really important, simply because of the number of cases that have been working their way through U.S. Circuit Courts, and that are headed to the Supreme Court.
Do you think Obama will be a champion to legalize same-sex marriage federally?
That's a good question. I'm not sure. Obviously he was a Constitutional Law professor before he ran for office. He probably has a better sense of whether or not you can, on a legal level, push for something like that. What I can tell you for sure, is what he has done compared to all of his predecessors. One example, is declaring DOMA an unconstitutional law, which was a law signed into law by a Democratic President. I think DOMA’s repeal is a testament to how far, as a party, Democrats have come, and much more indicative of how further into the main stream LGBT issues have come as well.
Can you talk a little about his platform for health care and women's health?
I think the President has already enacted the bulk of his health care agenda, with the American Health Care Act. In terms of what else he would do, in the future, I am not sure there is a whole lot more for him to do. Essentially what we are waiting for is all these big reforms which are scheduled in 2014 to go ahead and get fired up. Obviously, the President has come out in support that contraception is covered by health insurance and more health insurance companies are required to cover their patients in 2014, when the Mitchell mandate kicks in. It will have a huge positive impact for women throughout the country.
Again, you have a very clear choice. You have on one hand, a candidate who when he was Governor and running for the Senate in 1994, claimed to be pro choice. But today, so far as rights and abortion, we're not actually sure where he thinks the cutoff should be. Whether or not it should be applied to cases of incest or rape—and it's quite possible that we won't give an answer before the election. It seems to me, a very real possibility that we won’t really know what Mitt Romney stands for. With the possibility of a republican controlled Congress is putting bills on his desk if he is elected.