News Shaun Knittel Uncategorized — 28 September 2012
Veterans Group Opposed to Marriage Amendment

By Shaun Knittel
Online News Editor


On September 25, U.S. Rep Tim Walz, a National Guard veteran, jumped into the marriage amendment fray by helping launch Veterans United, a group that opposes the proposed constitutional amendment.

The Veterans United group says it is “a coalition of men and women veterans of the armed services who are united to oppose the amendment that would limit the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in Minnesota.”

The group will work in partnership with Minnesotans United for All Families, the main group opposing the amendment, speaking against the measure around the state.

Lori and Jeff Wilfahrt have been gay rights supporters since their son, Andrew, an openly gay soldier from Rosemount, was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

Officials said the veterans group already has more than 100 members

“All soldiers take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. And as it stands today, our state constitution protects rights and freedoms for all citizens,” said Lori Wilfahrt. “But if this amendment passes, it will actually restrict freedom.”

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“The U.S. military is on our side of this marriage definition issue,” said Jeff Wilfahrt, and he issued a direct appeal to veterans to join the opposition. “You once took the call, you did your duty, and you defended the Constitution. Then you did it with arms. This fall you can do it with an ink pen. I urge you to vote no. Your brother in arms laid down his life for that reason.”

The Wilfahrts previously had set up an organization in their son’s honor called “Andrew’s Round Table” to promote public discussion of equality and tolerance, and the new veterans group will draw on speakers from that organization, Lori Wilfahrt said.

Autumn Leva of Minnesota for Marriage, the main group supporting the amendment, said Andrew Wilfahrt is a hero and “we honor his sacrifice,” but “I think most Minnesotans disagree with the message that his parents and other veterans that were speaking out on this are promoting.”


About Author

Shaun Knittel

Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist living in Seattle, WA. He spent 10 years working in U.S. Navy public affairs and is a veteran of the Iraq war and war on terror. His work as a writer, editor, and photographer has appeared in noiZe Magazine, Blog, EDGE Media Network, Rising Republic Magazine, Star & Stripes, and more. Knittel currently serves as the Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News, Seattle's LGBT News & Entertainment weekly, and as the News Editor at OutServe Magazine. See more from this contributor.

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