This weekend, Wahls was honored by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City with its first ever Courageous Love award:
The inspiration for the award, which had never been presented from the Iowa City congregation before, was Wahls himself, said Sally Hartman, vice president of the Board of Directors. “We were just thinking, ‘What can we do for this guy?’” she said. “We were totally blown away and inspired by him.”
Wahls’ fame erupted after a January 2011 speech he gave before the Iowa House of Representatives Judiciary Committee about the fact that growing up with two mothers had no impact on the content of his character. In the speech, he said his family isn’t different from any others, and that the sense of family comes from the commitment its members make to one another.
Reflecting on Wahls’ speech, Hartman poured over the Unitarian Universalist Association literature and came across the Courageous Love Award, which has been given out at other churches to recognize people who bring love forward in communities. She said they’ll now give it out sporadically as worthy recipients are identified.
At the service Sunday morning, the award presentation prompted a standing ovation among the audience, including his mothers, who still attend the church, which eventually broke into loud cheers.
The church has long advocated for social justice causes, including marriage equality. The congregation has promoted a “Welcoming Church” theme, which is a message that seeks to encourage diversity and support it in the larger community, Hartman said...
Wahls said he hopes to dispel some of the myths and stereotypes that come with being the child of a same-sex couple. There is nothing intrinsically hard about having LGBT parents, he said. “What’s difficult or hard is the perception of having LGBT parents,” he said. “It’s the people who think it’s a big deal.”