A few years ago, a 19-year-old with a bold voice and magnetic way with words stood before the Iowa state legislature and defended same-sex marriage rights. Now, he’s taking his agenda all the way to Washington.

Zach Wahls - IMG_1906r

Zach Wahls, now 22, was raised by lesbian parents, and quickly became an Internet sensation in 2011 when his thought-provoking, powerful speech to lawmakers about his family garnered over 18 million views on YouTube. He even made a memorable appearance on Ellen with his mom in the audience!

At the time, Iowa was one of only five states where gay marriage was legal, and a bill proposed by the legislature aimed to repeal the law.

“When I heard that this bill was even being talked about, I knew I had to go out there and speak against it,” Zach told Ellen. “They’re lawmakers, they’re supposed to protect us, not take our rights away.”

Cut to the present: Zach is now bringing his political and oratory skills to the nation's capital, serving as an intern at the White House, according to the Huffington Post. He also spoke at the Democratic National Convention, lobbied Congress for marriage equality, and leveraged his success to write a book about his mothers.

Zach told Ellen that while he may not have successfully persuaded the Iowa legislature, the fact that so many people watched his speech had its own benefit.

“They still voted to pass the bill, but to have this impact on a state, national and international level has really been a blessing,” he said.

Check out Zach’s moving speech here: