Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a lesbian member of the national guard who came out on national TV the day "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed, succumbed to cancer earlier today, according to a statement from OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Morgan is survived by her wife, Karen, and the couple's five-year-old daughter, Casey Elena.
Morgan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, and underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, after which she was declared cancer-free, and served another tour of duty in Kuwait. But in September 2012, Morgan learned the cancer had returned — metastatic and incurable.
Morgan came out on MSNBC on September 20, 2011, and became a nationally recognized voice against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which denied her wife, Karen, and their daughter, Casey Elena, from receiving military, Social Security, and pension benefits readily offered to the opposite-sex spouses of straight soldiers. OutServe-SLDN reports that the Morgans are plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DOMA and other statues which prohibit same-sex partners from receiving equal military benefits.
"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," said OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson in a statement. "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supported Charlie so fervently since she proudly came out on national television on the day 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was repealed, and who have stayed by her side through her brave fight with cancer.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."
OutServe-SLDN reports that funeral arrangements are pending, and highlights a memorial page called "Remembering Charlie Morgan," where supporters, friends, and family can leave messages and remembrances of the courageous veteran.