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Walz: Vote ‘no’ on amendment

Congressman forms veterans group that opposes limiting marriage

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Walz

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., talks with area business and community leaders Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, at CHS in Winona. Walz's visit was partially in support of local leaders' push for a four-lane interstate bridge. (Andrew Link/Winona Daily News)

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz took a firm public stance Tuesday against Minnesota’s proposed constitutional marriage amendment.

Walz on Tuesday announced the formation of Veterans United, a group of military personnel about 100 strong so far that will urge voters to align against the amendment, which would change the state’s constitution to limit marriage to between a man and woman. The group, affiliated with Minnesotans United for All Families — the primary group organized to challenge the amendment — plans to tour the state from now until Nov. 6 to discuss the ways the amendment would affect gay and lesbian service members.

“I just can’t get around it that this is limiting freedoms for a group of Americans because of who they are and who they choose to marry,” Walz said.

“It’s a conversation I think people need to think about before they vote on this,” he said. “Is this really what we want to do?”

Walz announced the new group in St. Paul alongside Veterans United co-chairs Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt, a Twin Cities-area couple whose openly gay son, Andrew, was killed in Afghanistan last year. The Wilfahrts have since become high-profile advocates of same-sex marriage.

Walz is a retired command sergeant major in the National Guard and the highest-ranking non-commissioned soldier to serve in Congress. He has authored several successful veterans-related bills this year that have received widespread bipartisan support and praise from national veterans’ organizations.

Walz, a Democrat from Mankato, is running for his fourth term. His opponent, former state representative Allen Quist of St. Peter, supports the marriage amendment, though their opposing stances have so far not become a primary campaign issue in the district.

“For over a thousand years, Western culture has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Quist said in a statement Tuesday. “I don’t see a compelling reason to change that definition.”

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