MANKATO — A military veterans entourage stopped in Mankato Thursday as part of a statewide tour urging Minnesotans to vote “no” Nov. 6 on a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriages.
Veterans United, a partner of Minnesotans United for All Families, is using Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt of Rosemount to give voice to its cause.
The couple’s son, Andrew Wilfahrt, was an openly gay soldier who died in Afghanistan in 2011.
Jeff Wilfahrt said he and his wife want to stress an important, larger distinction in the debate:
“We aren’t arguing for same-sex marriage; we’re arguing for citizenship.”
To illustrate his point he alludes to President Harry Truman’s 1948 decree calling for the racial integration of U.S. troops.
“The military was reluctant to do it, and it took two decades before we as a civil society fully caught up with the military.”
He said he doesn’t want to see the same societal corollary regarding gays’ right to marry.
“Will we also have to wait two decades to get this right?”
Also speaking Thursday on behalf of Veterans United was Dale Moerke, a married U.S. Air Force veteran who said his thinking on gay marriage has evolved over time.
“I’m here today because I feel compelled to vote ‘no,’” said Moerke, who contends that the proposed amendment “singles out and excludes people from basic freedoms.”
Speaking on his own behalf was Mankatoan Mick Glackler-Riquelme, an Army Reserve member who showed up unsolicited with two of his five daughters in tow.
He said in his 20 years in the military he has worked with many gay and lesbian soldiers who should have as much right to marry as he does.
“I wouldn’t deny that to anyone who wants to marry,” he said as he gazed at the daughters he held close.
“I don’t ever want to put them in a position of worrying about whether Dad loves them or not because of who they are.”