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Guardsman turned gay rights advocate loses battle with cancer

WASHINGTON – A New Hampshire National Guardsman who had become a key figure in the fight for benefits for same-sex military couples passed away this weekend, according to officials at OutServe-SLDN.

Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, who was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, succumbed to the illness this weekend, according to group officials. She leaves behind her wife, Karen, and 5-year-old daughter, Casey.

The 18-year soldier used her condition to lobby Congress for an extension of full military benefits to families of gay troops. Because service officials were barred from recognizing the same-sex marriage, Morgan’s wife is not eligible for military or VA health care, certain death payouts and other survivor benefits. However, Morgan’s daughter is.

Morgan was one of the plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, arguing the law unfairly discriminates against gay couples. She also met with House Speaker John Boehner in February 2012 to protest the inequality, and testified on the issue before the Democratic Party’s platform committee in August at the presidential convention.

In a statement, OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson called Morgan “a courageous fighter for our country, for her family and for the equality of all who wear the uniform of our nation.”

The group has set up a remembrance page on their web site.

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