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Grassroots Group Named for Gay Soldier Speaks Out For Marriage Equality in Minnesota

With two months left in 2011, advocates on both sides of the issue are gearing up for what will surely be a heated debate over a proposed constitutional ban on marriage equality in Minnesota in 2012. Joining the ranks of marriage equality supporters is a grassroots organization called Andrew’s Round Table, formed this year by the parents of Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, a 31-year-old gay soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in February. The group, which is based in Minneapolis, hopes to defeat the amendment next year by encouraging discussion in the state about marriage equality, in the context of freedom and the Constitution. 

Since Corporal Wilfahrt died earlier this year, his parents, Lori and Jeff, have found strength in standing up for equality and have shared their story at various conferences and speaking engagements around the country. The couple hopes that by sharing their son’s story, they can help change people’s ‘knee-jerk reactions’ to marriage equality and stop Minnesota from becoming another state to constitutionally ban marriage for same-sex couples.

“The constitution our son died for was intended to protect rights, not to deny them,” Lori said during a speech at the OutServe conference on Oct. 15.

She added:  “It helps us to know that [Andrew’s] story gave a little strength to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal and continues to resonate with the broader issues of equality and freedom that face our country today.”

Watch her full speech below:

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Andrew’s Round Table, which has grown to include a number of straight allies, is just getting started with its first events taking place this week. This Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Randy Roberts Potts, the gay grandson of televangelist Oral Roberts, will be speaking at churches in Minneapolis, Rosemount, Winona and Rochester, Minn. on behalf of the organization.

Additionally, the group has already spoken out on the state level against the proposed amendment. Below is a video of Andrew’s father, Jeff Wilfahrt, speaking before the Minnesotan state legislature about the proposed change.

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Jeff and Lori have been featured on the Rachel Maddow Show, in a video by the Human Rights Campaign, and on CNN. All these clips can be viewed on the Andrew’s Round Table website.

GLAAD applauds the work of Andrew’s Round Table for sharing their stories as allies for full LGBT equality and encourages media outlets to continue to amplify the voices of allies like these in their coverage of equality issues.

For more information about Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, visit this site

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