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Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, who fought for LGBT military equality, dies of cancer

Sad news from OutServe-SLDN: Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard, who came out on national television the day 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was repealed, has died of cancer.

Here's the news release:

(Washington, DC) OutServe-SLDN today, in a statement from Executive Director Allyson Robinson, announced the passing of Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard.

charlie"Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a courageous fighter for our country, for her family, and for the equality of all who wear the uniform of our nation, passed away early this morning. On behalf of her wife Karen and daughter Casey Elena, we thank all those who have supported Charlie so fervently since she proudly came out on national television on the day 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was repealed, and who have stayed by her side through her brave fight with cancer. She made an indelible mark on everyone she met with her integrity, her positive outlook, and her unflinching commitment to righting the wrongs visited upon gay and lesbian military families. The fight for full LGBT equality in this country is forever changed because Charlie Morgan took up the cause," said Robinson.

Morgan came out on MSNBC on the September 20, 2011, the day of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal, and became a nationally recognized advocate against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars her wife, Karen, from receiving military, Social Security and other benefits to help her care for their five-year-old daughter Casey Elena. The Morgans are plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought 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. Currently, the Morgans do not receive the same protections as their straight, married peers, and Karen is not entitled to survivor's benefits following CW2 Morgan's death.

CW2 Morgan also drew national support in February 2012 when she visited Capitol Hill to meet with the staff of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) to tell her personal story and share how the Speaker's ongoing legal defense of DOMA via the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) harms her family. There, she detailed her battle with incurable stage-four breast cancer and asked the Speaker to drop his legal defense of DOMA. Boehner ignored her pleas and continues to defend the discriminatory law in court.

"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 returned home to my wife and our then four-year old daughter. But last 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 said at the time.

Last August, the Morgans traveled to Minneapolis to testify before Democratic Party's platform committee in support of the freedom to marry, as a follow up to a video released by OutServe-SLDN and Freedom to Marry detailing their courageous fight.

OutServe-SLDN Communications Director Zeke Stokes will serve as spokesperson for the Morgan Family. All inquiries should be directed to him at 202-621-5406 or zeke@outserve-sldn.org, as the family has requested privacy during this difficult time.

Funeral arrangements are pending. An online site has been established where friends, family, and supporters may leave messages and share their memories of CW2 Morgan. To visit the page "Remembering Charlie Morgan," click here.

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