Documentary showcases CW2 Charlie Morgan’s fight against DOMA and cancer

A new release from The Legal Stranger Project, an award-winning documentary that shares the stories of same-sex couples who are hurt by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, takes a look at the life of Chief Warrant Officer (CW2) Charlie Morgan, who lives in Rye, New Hampshire with her wife Karen, and their daughter Casey Elena.  

CW2 Morgan recently returned from a deployment in Kuwait, and she is now battling incurable stage-four breast cancer. Should she not survive, her wife would be unable to access any of the survivor benefits that she would need to take care of their five-year-old daughter Casey Elena. Same-sex couples like Charlie and Karen are blocked from receiving protections like these survivor benefits because of DOMA, a federal law that forces the U.S. military to discriminate against same-sex couples and deny them over 1,000 protections and responsibilities afforded to different-sex couples. 

The feature takes us inside the the day-to-day struggles that Charlie and Karen must endure because of DOMA. In addition to dealing with the already-horrific realities of breast cancer, Charlie and Karen are confronted every day with the fact that their marriage is not respected by their government. We see Charlie visit her doctor, we see Charlie and Karen meeting with NH Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and we see the couple enjoying a day with their adorable daughter. 

"I hope that Casey grows up in an environment where they'll look back and say, 'Wow, this is crazy that they had to go through that,'" Charlie says in the video. "But I hope that she sees that her parents were proud enough to step up and fight for her equality as well." 

Charlie and Karen have worked hard this year to speak out against DOMA and illustrate how it hurts their family and families like them. Most prominently, they're plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in October 2011 to challenge DOMA.

They've also made their struggles public in a number of other ways. In February, CW2 Morgan visited Capitol Hill to meet with the staff of John Boehner, Speaker of the House, to share her story and ask him and the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to stop defending DOMA in court. Boehner has ignored her pleas and continues to have BLAG defend the discriminatory law in court. The couple also appeared in August before the Democratic National Convention's party platform drafting committee to ask the Democrats to include a plank supporting the freedom to marry in their platform.

This summer, the Morgan family participated in our Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign, a national public education campaign we're co-leading with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to spotlight the inequalities that gay and lesbian service members still face despite the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Although they now have 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.

Watch the video from the Legal Stranger Project below, and then read more about the Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign HERE.

In Sickness & In Health from Amanda Lucidon/LucidPix on Vimeo.