As openly gay Marine Corps Captain Matthew Phelps marries the man that he loves, let's not forget the unknown numbers of gay soldiers who have fallen for this country. A few lucky men, including Andrew Wilfahrt, an Army Cpl. from Rosemount, Minnesota, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2011, were lucky enough to come out before shipping out. Others were not.
But none of their deaths were in vain. "That act of Democracy, the ability to get involved and change a system, to me that is the beauty in Andrew's death, if there is such a thing," said Andrew's father, Jeff, about Minnesota's recently passed marriage equality. "This is what he fought for." Marriage equality, something Andrew wanted so desperately to see, is just a part of the democratic puzzle.
The Wilfahrts are just now speaking out about marriage in Minnesota. Though they campaigned against a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, local NBC affiliate KARE reports that they sat on the sidelines for the battle to legalize same-sex nuptials not only because they were emotionally exhausted, but because they feared the reality of their son's death would taint the message of love.
"It was hard to talk about a dead person when you're going for same-sex marriage. It didn't seem appropriate to me. It was too sad and we were tired honestly," Lori Wilfahrt said.
Though Memorial Day just passed, it's never too late to remember the gay and lesbian men and women who have fought for this nation and its ideals.