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Soldier leaves legacy much larger than 'he was gay'

By Published: July 2, 2011

Andrew Wilfahrt met with a retired gay Marine in Minneapolis bars and coffee shops in the months before signing up. He wanted to know the pros and cons of being gay in the military.

The retired Marine says Andrew told him he wanted to serve so a soldier with a wife and children wouldn't have to go fight.

"He wasn't making a statement" about being gay. "He was doing it for everybody else," says Dan, who asked that his last name not be used. "He will forever be my hero because he joined for the right reasons. He was a silent part of the gay community, but it's just unspeakable how big of an impact he's had now."

His name and face have been front and center in the state's debate on gay marriage.

Lori and Jeff Wilfahrt, Andrew’s parents, have the milquetoast looks of middle-age Midwesterners: gray hair, rimmed glasses, apple-pie ordinary. Yet make no mistake: These lifelong Minnesotans might be the most powerful force to join the same-sex marriage movement.

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.

Cpl. Andrew Charles Wilfahrt, 31, is believed to be the first gay U.S. soldier to die in battle since President Obama signed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

In a biography he left on his laptop, Andrew described himself as someone who "espoused casual solipsism, the idea that ultimately one can know only oneself and nothing more.

"Although close to my parents and siblings, I generally prefer solitude and introspection, and have but few close associates," he wrote.

"I have maintained 'bachelor status' with the strictest of discipline, and a discipline I secretly wish would be compromised by a charming beauty."

Andrew never denied his sexuality. But like so many, he struggled with what it means to be gay in America. Yet it was only one part of him. He was so much more. In the note on his laptop, he never used the words gay or homosexual to define himself. Andrew never denied his sexuality. But like so many, he struggled with what it means to be gay in America. Yet it was only one part of him. He was so much more. In the note on his laptop, he never used the words gay or homosexual to define himself.

Read more about Cpl. Wilfahrt  from CNN

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