Freedom to Marry and Military Couple in Landmark Lawsuit to Testify on Democratic Platform

National Guard officer, fighting incurable cancer, will tell committee why recognition of marriage matters

Minneapolis, Minn. – Continuing its leadership in urging Democrats to take a stand on the freedom to marry in its party platform this election, Freedom to Marry National Director Marc Solomon will testify before the Democratic Party Platform Drafting Committee July 27-28 in Minneapolis, along with Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard, and her wife, Karen.  

Recent polling shows that nearly three-fourths of registered Democrats support the freedom to marry, and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has said that she expects that it will be voted into the party platform in September. Through its Democrats: Say I Do campaign, Freedom to Marry has secured support for the plank from prominent Democrats across the country, including 22 Democratic Senators, the Chair of this year’s Democratic National Convention, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, four former chairs of the national Democratic Party, Caroline Kennedy and nine other co-chairs of President Obama’s reelection campaign, and more than 40,000 Americans who’ve added their names to its online petition.

 But even where same-sex couples can legally marry, federal law ignores those marriages and denies the spouses the benefits of being  married.

CW2 Morgan, a member of OutServe, the association of actively serving gay and lesbian service members, is undergoing intravenous chemotherapy in her battle with incurable stage-four breast cancer.  She recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East. Though the couple was married in New Hampshire in 2011 after nearly 14 committed years together, they still do not receive the same federal protections as their straight, married peers. Should CW2 Morgan not survive her battle with cancer, her wife would not receive the survivors' benefits she desperately needs to take care of their 5-year-old daughter, Casey Elena.

“The only thing we’ve ever asked is to be treated just like any other family,” said Karen Morgan, who will speak for the couple on Saturday in Minneapolis, as CW2 Morgan's voice has been compromised by a tumor pressing on her vocal chords. “Our relationship is built on love, honor, and commitment through any obstacle life brings. Especially as a military family serving our country, it’s so disheartening in our time of need to be treated like second-class citizens. Now that our commander in chief has taken a stand for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples -- a freedom we enjoy in New Hampshire -- it's time that our nation's decision makers at all levels do the same and ensure that all marriages are recognized by our federal government."

The couple were featured in an online video released last week as part of Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry a joint campaign of Freedom to Marry and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) spotlighting the inequalities forced upon gay and lesbian service members by the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Along with seven other couples, they are plaintiffs in a landmark lawsuit filed by SLDN in October 2011 challenging DOMA and other federal statutes that prevent the military from providing equal recognition and support to same-sex military spouses.

“The Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans,” said Solomon of Freedom to Marry. “With President Obama’s powerful endorsement for the freedom to marry and the overwhelming support of Democratic voters nationwide, the time has now come for the national party to make a strong stand and once again lead.”    

Democratic governors throughout the country – including those in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, and New Hampshire – have made the freedom to marry a priority, and more than 250 Democratic mayors have joined Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.

These positions reflect the sentiment of the American public, whose support for the freedom to marry is at historic highs. A May 2012 CNN/ORC International poll found record support: 54 percent of Americans, including 70 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 73 percent of voters between the ages of 18 to 34.

Freedom to Marry will continue to share the stories of same-sex couples, both married and those unable to marry – along with those of parents, children, friends, and allies – to grow the majority for marriage and to show Democrats that it’s time to do the right thing and stand up for the freedom to marry for all.

For more information on Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry, visit www.freedomtomarry.org/serve.


ABOUT FREEDOM TO MARRY:  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.

ABOUT SLDN:  (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 11,500 requests for assistance.  

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