In an appearance Thursday on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, host Ellen DeGeneres thanked Zach Wahls for speaking out in support of gay marriage.

Wahls is the 19-year-old University of Iowa student who defended his two-mom family at an Iowa House hearing considering a proposed measure that would repeal the state's gay marriage law by defining marriage as a heterosexual union in the Iowa Constitution.

During the hearing, Wahls told lawmakers that his family wasn't any different.

“I'm not really so different from any of your children. My family really isn't so different from yours. After all, your family doesn't derive its sense of worth from being told by the state, 'You're married, congratulations!'”

“No, the sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other. To work through the hard times, so we can enjoy the good ones. It comes from the love that binds us. That's what makes a family,” Wahls said.

DeGeneres, who married actress Portia de Rossi in 2008, praised Wahls.

“I think you're a hero,” DeGeneres told her guest. “To me, you're a hero for what you did. I applaud you and I thank you for it.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)