Parents of gay soldier killed in combat reflect on marriage debate

7:45 AM, May 28, 2013   |    comments
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Andrew Wilfahrt

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - Lori Wilfahrt admits she never used to think a lot of about the meaning of Memorial Day.

That is until February 2011, when her son, 31-year old Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt was killed in combat while serving in Afghanistan.

"I just miss him so much. It's just sad and hard still," she said. "It's much more emotional. And it means something now because we have skin in the game now."

And while their son's death still hurts, she and her husband Jeff say it holds meaning on this Memorial Day.

"We're lucky because we found something, not everyone has that," she said.

What they found was a cause in which to put all their strength.

Their son Andrew is the first known gay Minnesota service member to die in Iraq or Afghanistan; and some believe it was his story that convinced Minnesotans to change. It's something even he thought would never come.

"We were talking about the other kids in the family getting married and he said I'll never be able to get married. So that was ten years ago. And today, he could," she recalled.

The Wilfahrt's fought hard to defeat the constitutional amendment that failed last November. It would have banned gay marriage in Minnesota. But they decided not to voice their support, at least publicly, for the same-sex marriage bill.

"It was hard to talk about a dead person when you're going for same-sex marriage. It didn't seem appropriate to me. It was too sad and we were tired honestly," she said.

Yet both were elated to see the governor sign the same-sex marriage bill into law.

"It was surprising it went so fast. But I think there was so much momentum built up in the campaign up to the election," she said.

"If his taxes were good enough, if his blood was good enough, were his rights good enough and I think that's a question that has now been answered," added Jeff Wilfahrt.

He told KARE 11, he understands why people may be apprehensive about gay marriage but is glad people are finally talking about the issue of gay marriage. He said that is what means the most.

"That act of Democracy, the ability to get involved and change a system, to me that is the beauty in Andrew's death, if there is such a thing. This is what he fought for," he said.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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