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Senator Jeanne Shaheen Honors Deceased Lesbian Guardsman Charlie Morgan in Emotional Floor Speech: VIDEO

Shaheen

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) honored Charlie Morgan, the lesbian guardsman and LGBT activist who died last week from breast cancer just one day before the Pentagon announced that it would extend limited partner benefits to gay troops and their families, something she had been fighting for for months. Unfortunately, since the benefits are not retroactive, Morgan's family will not receive them.

MorganSaid Shaheen, who got choked up during her speech: "I hope that Charlie Morgan knew how many lives she touched and how greatly we admired her efforts. I know that she will be sorely missed, and that her example will continue to guide us well into the future."

The Washington Blade reports:

Shaheen said she met Morgan in 2011 when she contacted the senator’s office upon her return from Kuwait. Morgan received notification that her spouse would be unable to attend a transition program known as National Guard Yellow Ribbon Reintegration. The senator said she worked with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to ensure Morgan’s family could participate...

...Concluding her speech, Shaheen announced that she would soon introduce a bill she called the Charlie Morgan Act, which she said would end a number of restrictions of benefits for legal spouses for service members, regardless of sexual orientation.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Rachel Maddow Blasts Boehner, House Republicans for Blocking Gay Military Benefits: VIDEO

Maddow

Rachel Maddow looks at Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's recent announcement that benefits to nearly the extent allowed by current law will be extended to gay servicemembers and their families, and John Boehner and House Republicans' campaign to defend DOMA, effectively blocking full benefits.

Maddow also looks at the infuriating and heartbreaking story of Charlie Morgan, the lesbian soldier and activist who recently lost her battle with cancer, and Morgan's wife Karen, who will not be receiving any benefits because DOMA is still in place.

Says Maddow: "It is a sad story. For many people it is an enraging story. But it is not a finished story."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Cancer-Stricken Lesbian Soldier Charlie Morgan Succumbs To Disease

Chief Warrant Officer and LGBT activist Charlie Morgan died this morning after a long battle with breast cancer. She leaves behind her wife Karen and young daughter Casey Elena. Her wife will not receive the same survivors' military benefits that heterosexual couples are awarded.

OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson has issued a statement which reads in part:

Morgan"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."

Morgan had hoped to live to see DOMA overturned. In November, she told journalist Andrea Stone:

“I’m praying that they take it up soon,” Morgan told me in a phone interview from her home in New Durham, N.H. a few days before Thanksgiving. “It’s my motivation for staying alive. I really need to be alive when they actually do overturn DOMA, otherwise Karen is not guaranteed anything.”

An online memorial site has been setup here.

Last summer, Andy posted a touching video in which Morgan and her family talk about their brave fight for equality. Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP

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Cancer-Stricken Lesbian Soldier Fights for Her Life, Family's Equality: VIDEO

Morgan

Here's a sobering and important video from Freedom to Marry and SLDN for their Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry campaign against DOMA featuring Charlie Morgan and her wife Karen.

You may remember Charlie. We've featured her story on Towleroad a number of times. In September 2011 she came out as a lesbian on MSNBC with Thomas Roberts as he covered the end of 'DADT'. She also went to Washington to meet with John Boehner's office to talk about the difficulties her family faces because of DOMA.

Now she's facing cancer.

Said Morgan today, in a press release: "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."

Should Morgan not survive her battle with breast cancer, her family, including their five-year-old daughter, Casey Elena, would not receive the survivors' benefits offered to married heterosexual veterans' families.

It's not just benefits. It's dignity as well. Should Morgan be given the military funeral that she is due, Karen would not be recognized as her spouse — she would just be recognized as a friend.

Watch Morgan tell her story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Cancer-Stricken Lesbian Soldier Fights for Her Life, Family's Equality: VIDEO" »


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