Group named after gay soldier killed in Aghanistan aims to defeat marriage amendment

By Andy Birkey
Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 11:38 am

A new group called Andrew’s Round Table, which is named for Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt, a gay soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in February, has launched to educate Minnesotans about equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“A small group of us had met a few times regarding the marriage amendment once it was pushed onto the ballot,” Sallie VanHouten, a member of the group, told the Minnesota Independent. “We all had loved ones past and present who were LGBT. My precious sister had died last November at the age of 52 very tragically and, with the pain of that still tugging at my heart, the amendment was even harder to bear.”

She said all the group members “desperately” want the 2012 vote on the marriage amendment to fail.

“We wondered what a small group of straight people could do to honor our loved ones and make the future a little brighter for those young ones who feel hopeless or marginalized by this amendment,” she said.

The group’s mission is to change Minnesotans’ minds on LGBT equality: “Our main goal is to encourage thoughtful conversation on this issue.”

One of the ART’s first events will feature Randy Roberts Potts, the grandson of famed televangelist Oral Roberts. The group is bringing him to speaking engagements in Minneapolis, Rosemount and Winona over the next week.

“A friend of mine who is retired was watching Joy Behar during the day saw Randy on there and researched him and found his sermon at All Souls,” said VanHouten. “He sent it to me and I forwarded it to the group.”

In July, Potts gave a sermon at All Souls Church in Tulsa, Okla., about his experiences growing up gay at the evangelical compound created by his grandfather. Here’s that sermon:

She added, “We were all so moved by Randy we wondered could we get him here. Since it seemed to be the churches who were organizing on the other side of this we decided maybe Randy could offer a more welcoming side of this issue. His perspective being raised evangelical is unique and very heartfelt.”

VanHouten said what drives her, and the 9 other members of ART, is equality for the LGBT community.

“Andrew Wilfarht and my sister Nancy are gone how many more will be gone before full equality is a reality for LGBT persons,” she said.

Andrew Wilfahrt

Andrew’s Roundtable is named for Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in February. His parents, Jeff and Lori, have been sharing their stories of his life at speaking engagements around the country. At the Outserve conference in Las Vegas last weekend, Lori spoke about Andrew and the fight for equality:

“Andrew died protecting rights that he himself could not enjoy, especially the right to marry the person he loved,” Lori Wilfarht told Outserve.

Of the push to amend Minnesota’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage, she said, “The constitution our son died for was intended to protect rights, not deny them.”

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Jeff Wilfahrt
Comment posted October 20, 2011 @ 11:53 am

We encourage all hetero folk to stand for their loved ones. There is no “gay agenda”, there is only the “social agenda” of the far right to deny legal redress before the courts to contest DOMA.

Fight back, speak up for the minority community. It is not the LGBT community that needs to come out, it is the hetero community that needs to come out.

Jeff Wilfahrt, Rosemount, MN

Randi Reitan
Comment posted October 20, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

This family thanks Lori and Jeff for their passion and hard work to bring the day of equality.

Nicole Burg
Comment posted October 20, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

I couldn’t be prouder!

Jerry Clarke
Comment posted October 20, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

Great article!

Gay Marriage Watch » Blog Archive » MN: New Group Formed to Fight Marriage Equality Ban
Pingback posted October 20, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

[...] Full Story from the Minnesota Independent [...]

Rich in St. Paul
Comment posted October 20, 2011 @ 11:22 pm

Lori Wilfahrt speech at Outserve October 2011

Thanks to the Internet, I watched the mother of U.S. Army Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt (Killed In
Action in Afghanistan in 2011) speak at the first conference of (The Association of Actively Serving LGBT Military Personnel) after the repeal of the military’s
discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. For some fifty years I have been a
student of, and participant in, public speaking, oral argument, and advocacy writing. Lori
Wilfahrt’s speech was elegant: graceful, dignified, and powerfully simple.

Andrew Wilfahrt’s legacy is just beginning because of the extraordinary efforts of both his
parents for the cause of marriage equality. For military and civilian gay people, marriage
equality would mark the end of the last major vestige of government-sanctioned discrimination in our country. The ideal of equality is baked into to soul of America. The Founding Fathers considered the ideals life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be unalienable rights, even though their own lives did not reconcile discrimination based on race, gender, and sexuality. The reconciliation of the ideal in concept with the actual experience of equality has taken hundreds of years. Andrew’s legacy now contributes to that reconciliation of equality, through the speeches of his parents (multiplied on the Internet) and conversations around “Andrew’s Round Table.”

I can imagine that the spirit of Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt is dancing for joy to experience his
mom and dad speaking with such elegant power. With grace and dignity, they are embracing positions of advocacy accidentally arising because their son (who happened to be gay) had the courage to volunteer for the military, and gave his life serving a country founded on the ideal of equality.

Out Military
Comment posted October 23, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

Thanks to DOMA legally married same-sex military spouses are denied health insurance, commissary and other base privileges, housing allowance, etc. as compared with their opposite-sex married counterparts. For those interested – has been providing a supportive environment for friending, sharing and networking between Gay active military, vets and supporters since December, 2010.

Comment posted October 24, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

My wife of 45 years and I are in strong support of Andrew’s Round Table. We will be amongst those attending Randy’s talk Wednesday evening in Rosemount. Blessings to all who oppose this mean-spirited amendment.

Rich St Paul MN
Comment posted October 25, 2011 @ 9:18 am

Regarding the comment above from Chapter&Verse, thank you to you and your wife, and all straight (hetero) allies, for supporting Andrew’s Round Table. Lori and Jeff Wilfahrt have tapped into a key factor in marriage equality: that it is everyone’s issue, not just a gay issue.

Another straight (hetero) ally, (now former and retired) Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, made the same point in his leadership for the repeal of the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy against gay soldiers. Mullen said everyone counts, and that the integrity of the entire military was at stake in expecting gay soldiers to lie about who they are as people of worth. Another informal leader in the repeal of DADT was Mike Mullen’s wife. She also stated that DADT was not merely a gay issue, it was an issue that affected everyone in the military, including spouses/partners of soldiers. See the comment above from OutMilitary about issues affecting spouses/partners.

These Internet conversations with allies are so important. That’s what Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt are building in their extraordinary efforts.

For insight into the Federal Constitutional issues involved in marriage equality, go to the website YouTube, then enter search words: Cato constitutional marriage equality

For another insightful interview, enter the search words: Bill Moyers Ted Olson David Boies

Thank you again to all who attend events of Andrew’s Round Table, Bring your neighbors and friends.

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