Cancer-stricken soldier fights for her life and her family’s equality

Today, Freedom to Marry and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) released a new video featuring Chief Warrant Officer (CW2) Charlie Morgan and her wife, Karen, that highlights the cruelest ways in which the so-called Defense of Marriage Act harms gay and lesbian service members and their families. Morgan recently returned from a deployment in the Middle East and is battling incurable stage four breast cancer. Should she not survive, her wife would be unable to access survivor benefits that she would need to take care of their five-year-old daughter Casey.

The video is part of our of our joint Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Serve campaign, a national public education campaign spotlighting the inequalities that gay and lesbian service members still face despite the repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Despite having the freedom to serve openly, gay and lesbian service members are still denied critical protections under DOMA, including health insurance, on-base housing, and survivor benefits. You can read more about the Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Serve campaign and watch other videos that have been released throughout the campaign here.

In a statement released this morning, Morgan-- who is a plaintiff in SLDN's lawsuit challenging DOMA-- explained the depth of DOMA's impact in the life of her family:

"In 2008, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy and several rounds of chemotherapy to save my life.  In 2010 - declared cancer free by my oncologist - I was deployed to Kuwait for one year in support of Operation New Dawn.  I faithfully fulfilled my duty and returned home to my wife and our then four-year old daughter.  But last September, we learned the awful truth that my cancer has returned.  It is metastatic and incurable.  We don't know how long I have."

Our founder and president Evan Wolfson underscored the urgent need to repeal DOMA so that all service members are afforded the respect and dignity they deserve:

“Many people think that our troops are serving freely and fairly alongside each other as a result of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ but that is not the case. There is still a federal ban on treating married service members as what they are: married. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act continues to discriminate against gay and lesbian service members and their families, including the Morgans, by denying them the critical safety-net of protections and responsibilities that come only with marriage. It is time to do what’s right by our military families, end federal marriage discrimination, and give all married service members the same fairness, dignity, and respect.” 

In conjunction with today's video release, Freedom to Marry and SLDN will also deliver more than 30,000 petition signatures along with the Morgan family's heart-wrenching story to members of Congress in support of the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill that would repeal DOMA. The signatures were gathered over the last two months as a part of the Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Serve campaign.

Watch the video now and then be sure to share it with your friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and email. Together, we can continue to share the stories of gay and lesbian families who face discrimination and bring an end to DOMA once and for all.