ST. PAUL -- A group of military veterans and family members plans to fight a proposal to define marriage in the Minnesota Constitution that effectively bans gay marriages.

Lori and Jeff Wilfahrt of Rosemount, whose gay son died in Afghanistan last year, joined Tuesday in announcing the formation of Veterans United.

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"He died for the men and women who were on the road that day and he died for the Constitution," Wilfahrt said of his son, Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt.

This fall, he added, Minnesotans can defend the state constitution "with an ink pen."

When their son joined the military, Lori Wilfahrt said, "he knew he would have to hide part of who he was; he enlisted anyway."

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a 24-year Army National Guard veteran, said that while troops protect the country, it is Minnesotans' job to protect the military by allowing them to marry whomever they wish.

Laws are on the books at the Minnesota and federal levels that ban gay marriages. However, supporters of the proposed amendment say that placing the language in the state constitution is less likely to be overturned in court.

States across the country have passed laws or constitutional amendments in recent years banning gay marriages. Gay marriages are legal in six states.

Minnesota voters will decide the constitutional amendment issue at the Nov. 6 election.

Also this week, Minnesota Catholics heard that they will be asked to contribute to the pro-amendment campaign and to pray for its passage.

And the "vote yes" campaign said Tuesday it will begin to buy billboards for their cause as one way to get out their message.

"Protecting the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman and ensuring that kids, along with their moms and dads, remain part of the marital union is a big deal for the majority of Minnesotans, so we knew we needed big signs reminding everyone to vote yes on Nov. 6," said Autumn Leva, Minnesota for Marriage spokeswoman.