Reporting Pat Kessler
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The parents of a gay Minnesota soldier killed in Afghanistan are leading an effort to defeat the proposed marriage amendment.
If the amendment is approved, the state constitution would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt say their son died in Afghanistan to protect rights he did not have himself. The Wilfarhts say they are honoring their son by opposing the marriage amendment, and that a “no” vote honors all military veterans.
“We are voting no to protect the freedom for all couples to marry, and we believe that it is patriotic to do so,” Lori Wilfahrt said.
Andrew Wilfarht was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan a few months before the Minnesota legislature approved the marriage amendment.
The Wilfarhts say their son hid his sexuality when he enlisted, but that his fellow soldiers didn’t care — they fought and died for the same constitution.
“He did not die for me. He did not die for his mother. He did not die for you,” Jeff Wilfahrt said. “He died for the men and the women who were on that road with him that day. And he died for the constitution.”
The push by “vote no” veterans came as supporters of the marriage amendment unveiled a series of billboards around the state with a message that marriage equals one man and one woman.
Democratic Congressman Tim Walz urged a no vote on the amendment. He said the state should follow the example of the military, which, he says, is way ahead of the rest of the country after it abolished “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
And in a web-video released Monday, a pro-amendment group ramped up a voter education drive, highlighting absentee ballots and how to check off the amendment.
“Please remember to vote yes on the marriage protection amendment,” the video says. “Because of a quirk in Minnesota law, if you vote…but leave the marriage amendment blank, then you will actually be counted as a no vote.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Catholic bishops are asking churchgoers to contribute money for television ads supporting the amendment to define marriage as between a man and woman. A letter from the bishops is going out Tuesday to Catholic households in Minnesota.