VIDEO: Grieving Widow Denied Basic Federal Benefits

Tuesday, 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 and above.

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 five-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, Morgan remains a plaintiff in OutServe-SLDN’s federal lawsuit, McLaughlin v. Panetta, challenging it in federal court.

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