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‘A Remarkable Man’: Gay Solider’s Parents Fight Gay Marriage Ban

gay blog, gay news, gay culture
Cpl. Andrew Charles Wilfahrt died in Afghanistan at age 31.

In an incredibly moving display of support, the parents of dead solider Andrew Wilfahrt are standing up for complete civil rights for the gay community in America.

Andrew Wilfahrt died in Afghanistan at the age of 31 and is believed to be the first gay US solider to die in battle since Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  CNN has done a wonderfully touching job covering the story of his parents, Jeff and Lori, and their newfound crusade for gay rights in the United States.

Andrew’s death, and unique situation as a gay man fighting abroad in the US Army, offers a different tactic against the anti-gay conservatives. It becomes very difficult to make an argument against gay rights when you have a gay man who died fighting for a country that denies his right to marry the person he loves.

Says his father:

Andrew has left us a great gift by virtue of his death. We have an opportunity to play, in effect, a trump card here. This is a solider who died in defense of this country. And it’s gonna be pretty hard for anyone to argue against what he did for the sake of us all as a citizen.

Why is it that had our son had a son had a significant other in his life, they would not have received that death benefit or the opportunity to go to Dover to receive his remains?

Love is love. Just as the whites went into the South over the civil rights issue, right now what this community needs are heteros to show up on their behalf, and say, look: these are my people that you are trying to discriminate against.

From CNN’s inspiring, beautiful and heart-wrenching article:

In a state that has produced GOP presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty — who have made careers fighting gay marriage — these parents of an American hero present a major challenge to the establishment.

They’ll take their battle to the Supreme Court, if that’s what it takes. To the Wilfahrts, denying gays the right to marry is discrimination against a group to which their son belonged.

Jeff has asked Lady Gaga to come to Minnesota to dance a same-sex marriage polka. He skipped a recent White House tea with the first lady held for families of service members. He wanted to send a message to the Obama administration: My son gave his life for his country, yet didn’t have full rights back home.

On a recent spring day, the couple stood outside the Capitol while lawmakers inside prepared to debate marriage. The legislators voted, largely along party lines, to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot for November 2012 to define marriage as solely between a man and woman.

Jeff had never spoken much publicly before eulogizing his son. He began by telling the crowd, “If I hold my finger up, I’m gonna be crying. When you see that, I need to pause.”

A few minutes later, his finger dangled in the breeze. His voice cracked. “I challenge the one-man, one-woman champions to define manliness or womanhood. Will you as a human being, as an American, as a Minnesotan, be asked to open your trousers or to have your skirt lifted when applying for a license to marry?

” … I hope my son didn’t die for human beings, for Americans, for Minnesotans who would deny him civil rights.”

On this day, in the grandstands of the pride parade, the Wilfahrts will celebrate their son’s identity as both a gay man and a soldier. It’s the type of event that would stun Bachmann and Pawlenty: More than 100,000 gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and straights gathered in their home state, celebrating life and obeying the law. A Minneapolis police car led the parade, two officers waving to the jubilant crowd.

The night before, Jeff, 58, and Lori, 56, wondered if they were doing the right thing by coming. Their son was so private, would he want his mom and dad to speak out?

Within minutes today, they get their answer. “Thank you for you and your son’s service,” a man says, offering a hug to Lori. Tears well in the parents’ eyes.

Another stranger, Laurie Kermes, holds Lori’s hand. “Your son did a lot. He’s not going to be lost in vain.”

Soon, a float goes by carrying two poster-sized photographs of Andrew in Army camo. “That’s our boy!” Jeff says.

He and Lori embrace. Their heads tilt toward the ground, two exhausted parents missing their son.

(via CNN)

  • Anonymous

    What wonderful people obviously interested in the rights of all people, not just white GOP polititions. No one has the right to tell anyone who they can marry. In this day and age, what right does anyone have to deny a soldiers death benefits because he was who he was. It is a civil rights issue. All the groups of people who are against gay marriage, just want to feel superior to other people. They are all sinners. I wonder how many more parents feel the same as the Wilfarhts? What we need to do is stand up and remove the GOP and Christian, and Catholic, and Morman bigots from this country.

  • Marriage is only between man and woman in the “popular
    religions”. A man bought a girl to gain land, power, money, or
    any combination of the three. It did not matter if he was a King or a
    peasant. The only reason it had to be a female was to get an heir to pass his
    property on. There are many old religions that did not care if there was a same-gender couple they would take on the children who were orphaned for one reason or another. 

  • I wonder how fellow Minnesotan Marcus Bachmann would formulate a cure of the “barbarism” of the Wilfahrts. 

  • Anonymous

    What a beautiful story, a beautiful man, and beautiful family.  May he and his parents all be blessed. Rest in peace, Andrew.  

  • Josh Croft

    I can’t seem to find the words for how much the Wilfahrt’s story touched me. My most heart-felt and deepest sympathies to Cpl. Wilfahrt’s family and friends . . . Be strong.

  • Rod

    This was certainly heart wrenching and very powerful. His mom and dad are amazing. To pay homage to their son by entering the front lines of the fight for LGBT rights is truly inspirational. What a beautiful, loving family.  RIP Andrew

  • Robert Fenton

    It’s Time. 
    Allow Homosexual People to Donate Blood.

     

    There is never enough safe blood supply in virtually every
    American community. A significant portion of the population is prohibited from
    donating blood. They are eliminated based on once valid, but now outdated FDA
    restrictions.

     

    About thirty years ago, the FDA segregated the homosexual
    population from donating blood because the HIV virus then, was almost entirely
    limited to that population. The ruling made sense and it worked – for a time.
    But the HIV virus spread to the heterosexual population. Yet, heterosexuals
    were still permitted to donate blood. The theory was, that laboratory detection
    was possible to eliminate affected blood. In fact, the FDA states that the
    blood supply is 99.9% safe. If that is true, and if it also true that the HIV
    virus exists within the heterosexual community, then it is logical to expect
    the same 99.9% testing certainty in blood donated by a homosexual. Separate is
    not equal. If the testing is accurate for heterosexual blood then it is
    accurate for homosexual blood.

     

    There are three reasons for the FDA to change its policy
    and allow homosexual blood donations.

     

    First, laboratory science is proven effective in
    identifying the HIV virus in all populations – male, female, heterosexual,
    homosexual.

     

    Second, we need the blood. There is never enough adequate
    supply and to eliminate a large group that could help is now legally and
    morally wrong and counterproductive to social needs.

     

    Third, the policy has become discriminatory without merit.
    There is no longer a logical scientific or legal basis to eliminate homosexual
    participation in blood donation. The virus exists throughout all communities
    and fortunately, laboratory testing today identifies the bad blood in all
    populations.

     

    By including homosexual donation, we increase the supply
    of healthy blood, no different than the supply of healthy blood from other
    populations.

     

    It is time for this change to benefit the entire
    population.

     

    First, laboratory science is proven effective in identifying
    the HIV virus in all populations – male, female, heterosexual, homosexual.

     

    Second, we need the blood. There is never enough adequate
    supply and to eliminate a large group that could help is wrong and
    counterproductive to social needs.

     

    Third, the policy has become discriminatory without merit.
    There is no longer a logical scientific or legal basis to eliminate homosexual
    participation in blood donation. The virus exists throughout all communities
    and fortunately, laboratory testing today, identifies the bad blood in all
    populations.

     

    By including homosexual donation, we increase the supply
    of healthy blood, no different than the supply of healthy blood from other
    populations.

     

    It is time for this FDA change to benefit the entire
    population.

     

    Sincerely,

  • Robert Fenton

    It’s Time. 
    Allow Homosexual People to Donate Blood.

     

    There is never enough safe blood supply in virtually every
    American community. A significant portion of the population is prohibited from
    donating blood. They are eliminated based on once valid, but now outdated FDA
    restrictions.

     

    About thirty years ago, the FDA segregated the homosexual
    population from donating blood because the HIV virus then, was almost entirely
    limited to that population. The ruling made sense and it worked – for a time.
    But the HIV virus spread to the heterosexual population. Yet, heterosexuals
    were still permitted to donate blood. The theory was, that laboratory detection
    was possible to eliminate affected blood. In fact, the FDA states that the
    blood supply is 99.9% safe. If that is true, and if it also true that the HIV
    virus exists within the heterosexual community, then it is logical to expect
    the same 99.9% testing certainty in blood donated by a homosexual. Separate is
    not equal. If the testing is accurate for heterosexual blood then it is
    accurate for homosexual blood.

     

    There are three reasons for the FDA to change its policy
    and allow homosexual blood donations.

     

    First, laboratory science is proven effective in
    identifying the HIV virus in all populations – male, female, heterosexual,
    homosexual.

     

    Second, we need the blood. There is never enough adequate
    supply and to eliminate a large group that could help is now legally and
    morally wrong and counterproductive to social needs.

     

    Third, the policy has become discriminatory without merit.
    There is no longer a logical scientific or legal basis to eliminate homosexual
    participation in blood donation. The virus exists throughout all communities
    and fortunately, laboratory testing today identifies the bad blood in all
    populations.

     

    By including homosexual donation, we increase the supply
    of healthy blood, no different than the supply of healthy blood from other
    populations.

     

    It is time for this change to benefit the entire
    population.

     

    First, laboratory science is proven effective in identifying
    the HIV virus in all populations – male, female, heterosexual, homosexual.

     

    Second, we need the blood. There is never enough adequate
    supply and to eliminate a large group that could help is wrong and
    counterproductive to social needs.

     

    Third, the policy has become discriminatory without merit.
    There is no longer a logical scientific or legal basis to eliminate homosexual
    participation in blood donation. The virus exists throughout all communities
    and fortunately, laboratory testing today, identifies the bad blood in all
    populations.

     

    By including homosexual donation, we increase the supply
    of healthy blood, no different than the supply of healthy blood from other
    populations.

     

    It is time for this FDA change to benefit the entire
    population.

     

    Sincerely,

  • Anonymous

    your comments are too large, and they do not address the topic at hand.  you should consider taking them down.

  • Anonymous

    I like the idea, but my question is: which religions condoned same-sex marriage?

  • Sara Simpkins

    I was so proud of CNN when this was their front page. Well done, CNN.

    As for the family, they have my deepest sympathies for the loss of their son. Yet, I am sure they would want more than our sympathies. I am sure they would like our help in working toward a cause their son would be proud of. In that, I can only say that I am trying…

  • Anonymous

    I believe, that ever moment Andrew life on earth was to be meaningful for the cause that he believe in. Kudos to his parents for keeping his spirit live and fight with the LGBT community where they live.

  • tony romo

     many polytheistic religions recognize unions between people of the same sex/gender. Some forms of Hinduism have legends involving same sex relationships between Gods (there is even a festival where men can marry a god husband) there is some debate as to the question of Buddhism though, (It depends on whether same sex unions can be considered natural and do not harm the people involved). there are also some branches of the Abrahamic religions that are ok with same sex unions (Islam is the only one of the 3 that I know expressly forbids it in scripture.) Some adherents to Voodoo also sanction same sex unions.

    The topics of religion, sexuality, and society is fascinating. I highly recommend everyone take some courses on the subjects in college.