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SLDN to House Speaker: CW2 Charlie Morgan Can’t Wait!

Morgan tells House Speaker that DOMA, other laws harm her family; SLDN launches petition

For immediate release: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Contact: Zeke Stokes at (202) 621-5406 or zeke@sldn.org

(Washington, D.C.) Chief Warrant Officer (CW2) Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard today visited Capitol Hill to meet with the staff of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), tell her personal story, and share how the Speaker's ongoing legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) via the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group harms her family. CW2 Morgan first communicated with Boehner in a letter dated December 23, 2011. There, she detailed her battle with incurable stage-four breast cancer and asked Boehner to meet with her to discuss the issue.

"In 2008, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy and several rounds of chemotherapy to save my life. In 2010 - declared cancer free by my oncologist - I was deployed to Kuwait for one year in support of Operation New Dawn. I faithfully fulfilled my duty, and I swelled with pride and patriotism as I returned home to my wife and our four-year old daughter. But this September, we learned the awful truth that my cancer has returned. It is metastatic and incurable. We don't know how long I have," CW2 Morgan wrote in her letter.

CW2 Morgan recounted her battle in a meeting today with Katherine Haley, a policy assistant to Boehner, following a meeting with her own congressman, Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH).

"Should I not survive this bout with cancer, my wife Karen will not receive any survivor's benefits, social security benefits or health insurance coverage. Karen is a stay-at-home mom, taking care of our daughter while I work and undergo chemotherapy. Even now, she does not have health insurance, as the policies available have too high a premium, and it is too expensive for our family to afford on our military salary," CW2 Morgan said.

CW2 Morgan and her wife, Karen, are plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by SLDN in October 2011 challenging DOMA and three other federal statutes that prevent the military from providing equal recognition, benefits and support to same-gender military spouses. Currently, the Morgans do not receive the same benefits as their straight, married peers, and Karen would not be entitled to survivor's benefits upon CW2 Morgan's death.

Today, SLDN launched a petition at change.org, calling on Boehner to drop his legal defense of DOMA and allow the courts to rule on the merits of SLDN's case, which also includes seven other service members and veterans with spouses of the same gender not currently receiving equal benefits. The Department of Justice has a February 28 deadline to respond to the complaint and plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.

"Our message for Speaker Boehner and others today is simply this: Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan can't wait. She and her family deserve equal treatment, and she may not have years for this process to play out in the courts or on Capitol Hill. Speaker Boehner can make a difference here, and we respectfully ask him to take a look at this case and get to know this family. We are confident that when he does, he will see that these discriminatory laws hurt our military, harm families, and are indefensible," said Sarvis.

"I would like the Speaker to know, as a member of the Active Guard, that I laid my life on the line for my country. Now I need my country to protect and take care of my family. My wife and daughter face an uncertain future, unable to receive the same family support and services as our counterparts who render the same service, take the same risks, and make the same sacrifices. Time is of the essence," CW2 Morgan told Haley today.

To view the letter and photos CW2 Morgan delivered to Boehner today, click here. For the materials she delivered to Guinta, click here.

To view the petition launched today by SLDN, click here.

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ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) 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. 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. Since 1993, our in-house legal team has responded to more than 11,000 requests for assistance. 

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members with questions are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: Call 1-800-538-7418 or 202-328-3244 x100.

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