New Video Features Military Widow Denied Federal Benefits Because of DOMA

5/21/2013

For Immediate Release

 

Press Contacts:
Nicole Collins Bronzan
Communications Director, Freedom to Marry
nicole@freedomtomarry.org
646-375-2044

Zeke Stokes
Director of External Engagement, OutServe-SLDN
zeke@outserve-sldn.org
202-621-5406
 

New York – Today Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN released the latest video in their “Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry” series, featuring Karen Morgan, the widow of Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard. The video can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/ggP4b1BN1t8. Morgan will also be featured in a Respect for Marriage Coalition press call tomorrow of military officials, service members and advocacy group leaders on the financial inequality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); call details are below.

CW2 Morgan succumbed to breast cancer in February after a five-year battle. Even though the Morgans were legally married in New Hampshire, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act doesn’t allow the military to recognize Karen Morgan as her wife. Now, in the wake of her family’s loss, Morgan faces financial uncertainty amid her grief, because she is not eligible for survivorship benefits she needs to care for their 5-year-old daughter, Casey Elena.

"It's hard for me, as a parent, to explain the situation to my daughter, because she has no language for discrimination. She knows and is aware that I am not able to have a military identification card, I can't get onto base," Morgan says in the video. She ends by reiterating her promise to her wife: "I will see this fight against DOMA through to the end."

“Though more and more states do the right thing by ending marriage discrimination, the federal government continues to treat widows like Karen Morgan as second-class citizens because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. “As gay and lesbian soldiers risk their lives for our country every day, this disrespectful treatment of military families is a stain on our nation’s honor. Karen should be able to work through her grief like any other military spouse – instead of facing the added stress of worrying how to pay the bills. It’s time for Congress to stand up for fairness and dignity for our military families by overturning the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and passing the Respect for Marriage Act.”

"Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan was a courageous fighter for our country, for her family, and for the equality of all who wear the uniform of our nation. Today, her wife Karen carries on that fight, a fight no military spouse should ever have to wage. The time has come to end the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ensure equal recognition, benefits, and support for all loving and committed military couples and their families," said Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson.

As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA’s denial of federal benefits to married couples who are gay, Morgan remains a plaintiff in OutServe-SLDN’s federal lawsuit, McLaughlin v. Panetta, challenging it in federal court.

Respect for Marriage Coalition Press Call:

WHAT: Military officials, service members and advocacy group leaders participate in press conference call on the financial inequality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

WHO:
Patrick Murphy, Former Congressman, Army Captain, Iraq War Veteran and CAP Senior Fellow
Allyson Robinson, Executive Director, Outserve-SLDN
Karen Morgan, Widow of the late Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard
Ashley Broadway, Director of Family Affairs, AMPA

WHEN:
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
10:30 a.m. ET

DIAL IN INFORMATION:
Dial In: (855) 212-9067
Conference ID #: 75417987


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Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.

OutServe-SLDN is the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel with more than fifty chapters and 6000 members around the world. It works to support a professional network of LGBT military personnel and create an environment of respect in the military with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America's military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. OS-SLDN provides free and direct legal assistance to service members and veterans affected by the repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and the prior regulatory ban on open service, as well as those currently serving who may experience harassment or discrimination. For more information, visit www.outserve-sldn.org.