Evangelist Billy Graham released a statement Wednesday endorsing Minnesota’s proposed marriage amendment.
Graham, whose evangelistic association was based in Minneapolis over 50 years, says he “wholeheartedly” supports the amendment, up for vote Nov. 6. If approved, the measure would change the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage.
“As a former resident with strong personal and ministry ties to the North Star State, I pray that the good people of Minnesota will show their support for God’s definition of marriage, between a man and a woman,” according to the statement.
Graham backed a similar constitutional amendment in North Carolina, which was approved by voters in May. He also recently met with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney at his home in Montreat, N.C., and reportedly pledged to “do all I can to help you.”
Graham’s involvement in the 2012 elections has been noted by religious observers, who view it as marked change for the famed evangelist, reports the Religion News Service:
“Experts who’ve watched Graham’s decades-long career say 2012 marks a new trajectory for the 93-year-old evangelist, and they speculate that Franklin Graham, his son and the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, could be playing a primary role.
“If not a new turn, he’s further down the road, with expressing a preference for a candidate,” said William Martin, author of “A Prophet With Honor,” a 1992 biography of Billy Graham. “I’m reasonably certain that he’s not done this before.’’
Graham, who turns 94 on Nov. 7, launched his worldwide ministry the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Minneapolis in 1950. He moved his evangelical headquarters to North Carolina in 2004.