Freedom to Marry and military couple testify to Democratic Party on why marriage matters

Today in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Freedom to Marry's National Campaign Director Marc Solomon testified before the Democratic Party Platform Drafting Committee on the importance of marriage for same-sex couples. Tomorrow, Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard, and her wife, Karen, will share their own testimony, explaining the ways in which the so-called Defense of Marriage Act harms them and other same-sex couples.

Thie testimonies are part of our Democrats: Say I Do campaign, our campaign to convince the Democratic National Committee to include a plank supporting the freedom to marry in the official Democratic Party platform. Last week, DNC Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that she expects support for the freedom to marry to appear in the platform, and recent polling shows overwhelming support for marriage among registered Democrats. The Democrats: Say I Do campaign has seen incredible momentum this year, with outspoken support from 22 Democratic Senators, the Chair of this year's Democratic National Convention, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Caroline Kennedy, and nine other co-chairs of President Obama's reelection campaign - plus more than 40,000 Americans who have added their names to our online petition. 

In his testimony (full testimony here), Solomon urged the drafting committee to take a stand in support of same-sex couples and their families by including the plank in the platform. He said:

The Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans. Living up to that legacy, Democratic lawmakers have provided the vast majority of the support for the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in states and in Congress, even as ending exclusion from marriage is now becoming a bipartisan cause.

Democratic governors throughout the country understand. They are leading the way for the freedom to marry in their states. Governor Andrew Cuomo made marriage a top legislative priority and led the effort to pass the marriage equality law in New York. Deval Patrick championed that freedom in Massachusetts. In Washington, Maryland, and New Hampshire, Democratic governors spoke up strongly and fought hard to pass and protect freedom to marry laws in their states. They recognize it is the right thing to do for all of the citizens they represent.

Tomorrow, Chief Warrant Officer Morgan and her wife will share their personal story in order to further illustrate why the Party should support a freedom to marry plank. 

CW2 Morgan and her wife appeared in a video as part of Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry, our joint campaign with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network that seeks to highlight the ways that DOMA specifically hurts military families. CW2 Morgan is undergoing intravenous chemotherapy in her battle with incurable stage-four breast cancer, and she recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East. Though the couple was married in New Hampshire in 2011 after nearly 14 committed years together, they still do not receive the same federal protections as their straight, married peers because of the Defense of Marriage Act. Should CW2 Morgan not survive her battle with cancer, her wife would not receive the survivors' benefits she desperately needs to take care of their 5-year-old daughter, Casey Elena.

Karen Morgan will speak for herself and her wife tomorrow, as CW2 Morgan's voice has been compromised by a tumor pressing on her vocal chords. Karen said: "Our relationship is built on love, honor, and commitment through any obstacle life brings. Especially as a military family serving our country, it's so disheartening in our time of need to be treated like second-class citizens. Now that our commander in chief has taken a stand for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples - a freedom we enjoy in New Hampshire - it's time that our nation's decision makers at all levels do the same and ensure that all marriages are recognized by our federal government." Watch the video featuring their story below. 

Freedom to Marry is proud to be a part of the hearing for the Democratic Party this weekend, and we will continue to share the stories of same-sex couples, both married and those unable to marry  to grow the majority for marriage and to show Democrats that it's time to do the right thing and stand up for the freedom to marry for all.