Zach Wahls Talks Defense Of Gay Marriage Speech On MSNBC

02/04/2011 12:51 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When 19-year-old University of Iowa engineering student Zach Wahls made an explosive speech this week in defense of gay marriage, he didn't expect his words -- intended for the Iowa House of Representatives -- to take the internet by storm. But that's exactly what happened, and now Wahls finds himself a veritable sensation.

In an interview with MSNBC's the Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, a humble and eloquent Wahls told host O'Donnell the reaction to his speech "has really been overwhelming. I was sitting in work on Tuesday and my co-worker walked up to me and asked, 'do you realize that you're all over Facebook?' and I didn't even know what she was talking about."

He added, "It's been so inspirational for me to hear from so many people they're supporting my family and the rights of gay couples and families led by gay couples all across the country. It's really unbelievable."

O'Donnell spoke with Wahls as well as mothers Jackie and Terry and sister Zebby. When asked what it was like to see her son defend his family in such a way, Terry said "It was magnificent. It brought tears to my eyes."

Though the bill Wahls argued against -- which would ban gay marriage and rescind recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships in Iowa -- passed 62-37, Wahls told O'Donnell that he is confident the bill won't clear the senate.

And the student's statement certainly made an impact. Iowa Rep. Dave Jacoby told the Daily Iowan: "I literally watched the faces of some of my Republican friends in the chamber, and I could tell they were torn about how they were going to vote...What he did is eloquently put a face on the issue."

When asked by Lawrence whether he planned to run for the House of Representatives once he turns 21, Wahls -- who has written about the state of gay marriage in Iowa in the past -- answered that he is still intending on becoming an engineer and has "no plans yet" of entering the political realm.

Below, check out Wahls and his family on the Last Word, and share your reactions in the comments section.

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