Military Couple Fights Against DOMA While Battling Cancer
Karen Morgan & Charlie Morgan • New Hampshire
This story was originally published in October 2013, following the death of Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, who participated with her wife Karen Morgan in our Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign to raise awareness of how DOMA hurts families.
Yesterday, Karen Morgan, the widow of Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard, was finally able to get her military spouse ID card. Since September 3, 2013, the same-sex spouses of U.S. service members have been eligible for the legal respect and protections that marriage extends to the spouses of all other members of the U.S. military.
The ID card will help to protect Karen Morgan, who lost her wife Charlie on February 10 of this year after a courageous battle with cancer. Charlie's wife and daughter, Casey Elena, will receive the protections that the U.S. military provides for families who lose a spouse or parent who is a servicemember.
After the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in September 2011, CW2 Morgan and her wife were fervently vocal advocates supporting repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal respect for lawful marriages between same-sex couples, until the Supreme Court struck down the central part of the law in June 2013. CW2 Morgan and Karen, who married in New Hampshire, were plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in October 2011 challenging DOMA. CW2 Morgan and her wife consistently spoke out about how DOMA hurt their family by barring Karen from receiving military, Social Security, and other protections that would help her care for their 5-year-old daughter Casey Elena if CW2 Morgan passed away.
Charlie and Karen brought a light to the harms of DOMA time and time again. In February 2012, 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. The couple also appeared the following 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.
Last summer, the Morgan family participated in our Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign, the national public education campaign we co-led with OutServe-SLDN to spotlight the inequalities that gay and lesbian service members faced because of DOMA. They also shared their story with the Legal Stranger Project. Watch the moving video, shot six months before CW2 Morgan passed away: