The parents of the first openly gay American soldier killed after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell have launched a tour of war veterans against a ban on gay marriage.
Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt will tour the state of Minnesota with ex-soldiers, campaigning against proposed legislation that would define marriage in the state as being between a man and a woman only.
Their son Andrew died when a bomb exploded under a bridge in Afghanistan in 2011.
Corporal Wilfahrt was part of the 552nd military police and was killed near the southern city of Kandahar where his unit was deployed.
The Wilfahrts are set to appear at a kickoff event at the capital for their state-wide tour today (25 September).
They will speak about the effect the legislation would have had on their son and ask Minnesota residents to reject the proposal at the November ballot.
Republican representative and ex-soldier Tim Walz is also expected to appear to show his support for the campaign.
In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian last year, Jeff Wilfahrt said his son hid his sexuality when he first signed up by keeping a photo of a woman hugging him in his locker.
However speaking to his mother before his death, he said: ‘Mom, everyone knows. Nobody cares.’
Speaking of his son’s bravery, Wilfahrt revealed he joined the army ‘so that a soldier with a wife would not have to.’
Described as a man who was not big on the ‘gay community,’ his father said he joined the army to find comradeship.
‘He loved men but he didn’t feel he found a depth to his male relationships and wanted something more,’ he said.
His parents are asking the people of Minnesota to reject the states proposed change to the constitution that would mean their son would be unable to marry the person he loved.
Speaking during a debate on the bill in 2011, Minnesota Republican John Kriesel, an army veteran who lost his legs in Iraq, passed around a photo of Corporal Wilfahrt.
He told state representatives he could not look at the picture, and say: ‘You know what, Coporal, you were good enough to fight for your country and give your life.
‘But you were not good enough to marry the person you loved. I can’t do that.’