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Veterans United Launched in Opposition to Marriage Amendment

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Congressman Walz, Jeff & Lori Wilfahrt Co-Chair Veterans United; Veterans Gathered at State Capitol, Encouraged Minnesotans to Vote No

CONTACTKate Brickman, Press Secretary
Phone Number: 612-460-1219

September 24, 2012 – Saint Paul, MN – Today, U.S. Congressman Tim Walz joined Jeff & Lori Wilfahrt to launch Veterans United – 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. Walz and the Wilfahrts joined other Minnesotan veterans to urge Minnesotans to vote no on the hurtful, freedom-limiting marriage amendment.

“To ask a young American to serve this nation, and in the case of Corporal Wilfahrt, to make the ultimate sacrifice, how can we use our sacred constitution to limit the freedom to simply marry the person that they love,” said Congressman Walz. “Veterans understand selfless service. It’s our responsibility to protect them as they have protected us.”

Congressman Walz joined co-chairs Lori and Jeff Wilfahrt, whose son, Andrew, an openly gay soldier from Rosemount, was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

“It is not lost on us that Andrew died protecting the freedoms that he himself did not have – especially the right to marry the person he loved,” said Lori Wilfahrt. “All soldiers take an oath to protect and defend the constitution. We are standing together today because we don’t want to see our constitution amended like this. We believe that all citizens should have the same freedom to marry. We are voting no to protect freedom for all couples to marry, and we believe it is patriotic to do so.”

Trista Matascastillo, U.S. Marine and Minnesota National Guard, urged Veterans to vote no. “In my 16 years of military service in three branches, I served alongside many gay and lesbian sailors, marines and soldiers who answered the same call to serve that I did and took the same oath of enlistment and office that I did, and many sacrificed their lives and personal safety, yet were not afforded the same freedoms that I had,” said Matascastillo. “I am here today because I oppose any amendment that takes away a basic freedom for some, because I know that we are taking away freedoms for everyone.”

Veterans United is a new coalition partner of Minnesotans United for All Families. The group will travel the state in the coming weeks to talk about why the freedom they served to protect is freedom for everyone and how this amendment would use the constitution to take those freedoms away from a certain group of people. The group has more than 100 veterans on board so far.

“Over a decade ago, I took an oath that many men and women take across the state and country. We committed to protect freedom,” said Brian Cihacek, Minnesota National Guard. “Today, I stand up with the community of veterans and we remain committed to protecting freedom. We stand in solidarity that the freedom at issue with this constitutional amendment needs to be protected, and we stand ready to do that.”

“Andrew like all soldiers took an oath to protect and defend the constitution,” said Jeff Wilfahrt. “Those of you who are veterans: you once took the call, you did your duty, and 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.”




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