“It’s been difficult watching Republicans hollow out Iowa’s social foundation,” Wahls told the Iowa City Press-Citizen last week. “To me, it seems like we’re really at a crossroads between a situation where it’s every man, woman and child for him or herself and getting back to the morals that have defined this state.”
In a series of tweets last week, Wahls explained his decision to run.
He’ll reportedly be challenged by at least one other Democrat, retired diplomat Janice Weiner, in the primary.
Wahls gained widespread attention six years ago when he defended same-sex marriage before the Iowa House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee. In a three-minute speech, he spoke about his experience of being raised by two mothers.
“Not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple,” Wahls, who was then a 19-year-old University of Iowa engineering student, said in the speech, which can be viewed below. “And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.”
Footage of Wahls’ speech went viral, becoming YouTube’s most-watched political video of 2011. It’s since been viewed more than 19 million times.
The success of the speech helped establish Wahls, who is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as an LGBTQ rights advocate.
In 2012, he published a book, My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family. Wahls, an Eagle Scout, also co-founded Scouts for Equality, an advocacy group that worked to end the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on LGBTQ members, that same year.
It sounds like LGBTQ rights will remain a part of his platform moving forward.
Editor’s Note: Wahls is dating a HuffPost editor who was not involved in the reporting or editing of this story.