(Photo: A. Larry Ross Communications)
The Rev. Billy Graham, noted evangelist and founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has officially endorsed the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the soon-to-be 95-year-old Graham mentioned his connections to the state and his hopes for how they vote next Tuesday.
"For more than 50 years, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was based in Minneapolis and we were blessed by the support of thousands of Minnesotans who helped us spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world," said Graham.
"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."
Minnesota for Marriage, the state organization advocating for the marriage amendment, expressed their gratefulness for Graham's endorsement.
"We are thrilled to have an authority on the Bible such as Billy Graham speak clearly in defense of God's design for marriage," said John Helmberger, Chairman of Minnesota For Marriage.
"The support of Rev. Graham should give strong encouragement to those clergy who have made a prophetic stand in defense of marriage and have encouraged their congregations to vote yes on Nov. 6."
On the same day as Graham's endorsement of Amendment 1, the opposition to the marriage amendment announced the beginning of the "Minnesota Votes No" tour of the state.
Organized by the anti-amendment group Minnesotans United for All Families, the tour boasts of 15,000 volunteers and will include an interdenominational All Saints Day service Thursday evening.
The tour will begin in Minneapolis on Thursday and eventually will go to Winona on Friday, and from there to other parts of Minnesota.
This is not the first marriage amendment that Rev. Billy Graham has endorsed this year. In May, when Graham's home state of North Carolina voted on their marriage definition amendment, Graham released a statement in support for the ballot initiative.
"At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage…The Bible is clear – God's definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote for the marriage amendment on Tuesday, May 8. God bless you as you vote," said Graham.
In mid-October, a KSTP/SurveyUSA poll put a dead heat on the marriage amendment, with 47 percent expressing support and 46 percent expression opposition, with 7 percent undecided and a 4.3 percent margin of error.