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Activist Zach Wahls Encourages People to Put Gender Aside at Rainbow Luncheon

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Activist Zach Wahls Encourages People to Put Gender Aside at Rainbow Luncheon

Speaking to a record crowd at Bentley’s Rainbow Luncheon on October 23, keynote speaker Zach Wahls delivered a speech with the same heartfelt passion as his 2011 testimony in support of gay marriage before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee. During the event, which celebrates the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning) community, Wahls tackled the question “What makes a family?” and included his own experience as the son of two lesbian mothers whose ability to marry was dependent on legislative decisions.

Wahls recalled how the video of that 2011 testimony — which received more than 20 million views on YouTube and landed Wahls on national platforms like the 2012 Democratic National Convention and The Ellen DeGeneres Show — gave him a voice and a responsibility. “I feel incredibly blessed to have had these opportunities to be part of a national conversation,” he said. “[Same sex marriage] is about what is undeniably one of this nation’s most important civil rights issues of our time, not just because of the immediate policy ramifications, but because of everything it represents: The humanizing face that it puts on the LGBTQ community.”

As a public spokesperson, Wahls has fielded a range of questions, including those about the efficacy of same sex parents. “When it comes to raising kids, I really don’t think what matters most is gender or sexual orientation or the number of parents,” he explained. “What matters most as kids is whether you have parents who are willing to put in the blood, sweat, toil and tears that it takes … and if parents have that love, the kids will be O.K.”

Wahls also tackled the argument that gay marriage is fundamentally un-American. “The entire idea of this country was that you could have different people from different countries and faiths come together … to form this nation in which we were united not by our identity but by our values: a commitment to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness … that’s why this is an American issue …”

During the luncheon, the 2013 Rainbow Awards were presented to Associate Professor of Global Studies Kristin Sorensen and Teresita (Tammie) Vicente ‘14, co-president of Bentley’s PRIDE (People Respecting Individuality and Diversity through Education) student organization.

The winners were noted for:

  • Showing courage of conviction by taking a public stand in support of the LGBTQ population
  • Contributing in ways large and small to the humanizing of the Bentley campus in terms of respect and appreciation for inclusion
  • Showing a commitment to making Bentley more hospitable to LGBTQ people and a commitment to maintaining the ongoing effort for understanding and acceptance

Pictured above (left to right): Rainbow Award winner Teresita (Tammie) Vicente ‘14, keynote speaker Zach Wahls, and Ron Ardizzone, director of Student Systems and PRIDE Adviser at Bentley.

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit www.bentley.edu

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by Bentley University November 11, 2014
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