Jeff Wilfahrt, Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt's father, running for House seat on anti-"marriage amendment" platform

Jeff Wilfahrt speaks at an OutFront rally.
Jeff Wilfahrt speaks at an OutFront rally.

Jeff Wilfahrt, the father of an openly gay soldier who was killed in Afghanistan a year ago next month, has announced he is running for a seat in the House of Representatives.In a fund-raising letter announcing his candidacy, Wilfahrt writes that he wants to represent Senate District 37B in order to fight the anti-gay marriage amendment proposed by state Republicans.

"We lost our eldest son to an IED in Afghanistan," the letter reads. "Had the GOP not put forward the Marriage Amendment for the 2012 ballot many of you would not know my name nor would you be receiving this beg letter."

Andrew Wilfahrt came out to his parents when he was 16 years old and joined the Army at 21. He was out on patrol in Kandahar when he stepped on an IED, which blew off his legs and his left hand. He was the first openly gay, Minnesotan soldier to die in Afghanistan.

Since then his parents have become strong LGBT rights advocates, holding up their son's sacrifice to question the legitimacy of denying gays the right to marry.

"I can tell you that a dead soldier is worth one hundred thousand dollars," Wilfahrt Sr. said at an OutFront rally at the Capitol last spring. "The Minnesota Family Council is raising something in the neighborhood of $4.7 million dollars to promote a ballot referendum to place an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot. You can see that one hundred thousand dollars stands no chance against the collections from the church pews or $100 dollar dinner entrance fees."

Wilfahrt, a Rosemount resident and former 3M employee, will be challenging Rep. Kurt Bills -- one of the Wilfahrt kids' former high school teachers -- who voted in support of placing the marriage amendment on the ballot. Phil Sterner, the last Democrat to hold the seat, has taken over as campaign manager, and Wilfahrt is looking for a treasurer and volunteers.

In the letter, he adds that he is pro-choice, opposes voting ID measures, and is supportive of an Equal Rights Amendment.

"I turn to you hoping you recognize that my wife and I have put ourselves forward to advance the protection of the MN Constitution and keep discriminatory amendments out of that document," he writes. "I intend to work for progressive causes here at the state level."

Read the whole letter here.

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