2013.02.11 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Iowa U Student, Gay-Rights Speaker to Headline Annual Goldstein Lecture
Omaha - A University of Iowa student who gained national attention for a speech defending the right for his parents to remain married under Iowa’s same-sex marriage law will speak at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) as part of the annual Leonard and Shirley Goldstein Lecture on Human Rights on Tuesday, March 12.
This lecture will take place in the Thompson Center of UNO’s Dodge Street Campus beginning at 7 p.m. There is no cost to attend the lecture and the public is welcome to attend.
Zach Wahls, a 19-year-old engineering student from Iowa, will discuss “What Makes a Family?” – a question he tried to answer in front of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in January 2011. Consistent with the theme of this annual lectureship, he will also contribute to the question: “Are gay rights also human rights? Is same-sex marriage a human right?”
The son of two lesbian mothers, Wahls had no idea that his testimony would spread like wildfire, and even land him on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
A state champion in high school debate and a multiple national finalist in competitive acting, Wahls was no stranger to speaking before an audience. Yet, he had never talked about his family in a public setting or in such open and candid terms.
On his way home from the public hearing, he thought that his work was, for all practical purposes, finished. However, just two days after he testified during that hearing, however, a YouTube video of his testimony went viral, garnering nearly two million views with millions more via Facebook, Twitter, national and international television, and other online media.
Although initially hesitant to share his story on such a vast stage, Wahls remembered the famed words of his favorite superhero's uncle, Ben Parker: "With great power comes great responsibility." Never before in his life had he had such an opportunity to stand up and speak out on behalf of his family. So he decided to advocate for family and families like his all over the country.
After appearing on numerous television programs in person and having his testimony aired on MSNBC, ABC, CBS and CNN, Wahls found himself working on a book and has now penned a unqiue college and university lecture called, "What Makes a Family?"
In his lecture, Wahls shares a story that offers a fresh, bold perspective on a recently rekindled, and always contentious, issue: gay marriage. Like any family's story, his is one of highs and lows, laughs and tribulations.
The Religious Studies program at UNO is sponsoring this lecture.
About Shirley and Leonard Goldstein and Their Lecture Series
Shirley and Leonard Goldstein established The Shirley and Leonard Goldstein Lecture on Human Rights in 1997. The Goldstein Lecture brings a distinguished scholar or leading expert on human rights to the UNO campus each year - representing a wide range of views on a variety of human rights issues.
For over 25 years, Shirley Goldstein has devoted her life to promoting human rights around the world and especially to securing freedom for Soviet Jews. Operating on her conviction that one person can make a difference, Shirley Goldstein did just that - she made a significant difference in the lives of hundreds of individuals persecuted by the Soviet Union and other governments. She has also inspired others to take up the cause of freedom and human rights. Always supported by her husband, Leonard, Shirley made numerous trips to the Soviet Union to meet with Soviet dissidents and refuseniks, including Anatoly Sharansky. Together, the Goldsteins established the Lecture to focus attention on the plight of people around the world who suffer from the abuse of human rights.
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