Terry “Tall Mom” Wahls
Most people thought Terry was crazy when she decided to try and have kids–by herself–in 1989. After overcoming a slew of barriers, she gave birth to Zach in 1991 using donor insemination and then, using the same anonymous donor, Zebby in 1994.
Terry met Jackie in 1995, and the two held a commitment ceremony in 1996 in a Unitarian Universalist church. In 2000, Terry took at job at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital and Clinic in Iowa City, Iowa. That same year, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a devastating autoimmune disease that ultimately confined her to a wheelchair in late 2007. An internal medicine physician of over twenty years, she now found herself in an unfamiliar role: that of the patient.
Unwilling to resign herself to what seemed to be her fate, she pored over decades of MS research and designed a series of cutting-edge interventions. After implementing them in late 2007, she has experienced a remarkable recovery, climbing back out of her wheelchair and returning to her by then rusty bike in the spring 2009. It was that same spring that the Varnum v. Brien decision was handed down and Iowa realized full marriage equality. She and Jackie wed that October.
More information about her work with MS and intensive nutrition can be found on her website, http://www.terrywahls.org/
Jackie “Short Mom” Reger
Jackie met Terry in Wisconsin at a Unitarian Universalist coffee house, and the two immediately hit it off, exchanging commitments just under two years later. Immediately, she got involved with Zach’s Cub Scout den as Den Mother and, later, as a co-Pack Master with Terry. After Zach joined Boy Scouts, she signed on as his Troop’s advancements coordinator and worked with him all the way to Eagle Scout.
An avid biker from a young age, she and Zach often mountain biked together, embarking on an unforgettable adventure with Zach to Utah for a week of some of the best mountain biking this country has to offer. She’s watched with pride and happiness as Terry’s physical condition has rebounded and was thrilled to officially tie the knot with Terry in 2009.
Today, Jackie is a nurse practitioner at the Veteran’s Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Coralville, Iowa.
When Zach got up to testify before the Iowa House of Representatives, he had no idea what was in store for him. After simply sharing his story and explaining his thoughts on why same-gender marriage is constitutionally protected, and ought to remain so, a video of his testimony made its way–unbeknownst to Zach–onto YouTube.
Over the course of that week, the testimony proceeded to go ludicrously viral, landing Zach appearances on MSNBC, CNN and the Ellen DeGeneres Show, with various iterations of the video racking up some two million hits on YouTube.
Given his new, and entirely unexpected, role as an advocate for marriage equality, he’s since started speaking and writing about his (usually boring) experience growing up with two lesbian moms. On leave from his environmental engineering studies at the University of Iowa, he’s doing his best to juggle his various ongoing projects with his passion for seeing full marriage equality both protected in Iowa and secured in other states.
Zebby is an aspiring artist and a fantastic illustrator. She loves graphic novels and hopes to both write and illustrate her own book some day. A longtime reader of comics, Zebby has developed an appreciation for (and perhaps borderline obsession with) the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
She’s also a talented musician who has mastered the piano, long played the French horn (which Jackie played when she was in high school) and is constantly on the lookout for new instruments to play and learn.