Fighting Cancer, and for her Family’s Equality

Army vet stars in campaign to repeal Defense of Marriage Act

After 16 years in the Army National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer (CW2) Charlie Morgan was diagnosed with an incurable reoccurrence of stage four breast cancer. Amidst the trauma of the disease, Morgan worried that her wife, Karen, won’t have access to survivors’ benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which works toward LGBT equality in the military, has linked up with Freedom to Marry to highlight the inequalities gay and lesbian service members face. As part of the joint Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign, the organizations released a YouTube video explaining the effects DOMA has on same-sex marriage, featuring the Morgans and their all-to-real plight. SLDN and Freedom to Marry have also announced meetings on Capitol Hill to deliver a petition signed by 30,000 supporters of the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill to repeal DOMA now pending in Congress.

DOMA has prohibited the Morgan family from receiving more than 1,100 federal protections and benefits that come with legal marriage. The married New Hampshire couple is most concerned that supporting their five-year-old daughter, without survivor benefits, will be difficult if CW2 Morgan passes away.

In February, CW2 Morgan visited Capitol Hill to meet with the staff of Speaker of the House John Boehner. In hopes that Boehner would drop his legal defense of the discriminatory law, Morgan shared her story of struggle and spoke on how DOMA harms her family. Boehner seemingly ignored her plea and continues to defend DOMA.

“It’s unfathomable to me how anyone could look at the Morgan family and not be moved by their reality.  Here’s a service member, who has risked her life for our nation overseas, and now is fighting for her life here at home. She shouldn’t be forced also to fight for her family to be recognized, respected and provided with the same support as any of her peers would receive,” said Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis.

To add your name to the petition, visit

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