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OutServe Magazine | January 19, 2015

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New Hampshire Governor Makes Inclusiveness the Order of the Day

New Hampshire Governor Makes Inclusiveness the Order of the Day

Op-ed By Karen Morgan
New Durham, New Hampshire

There are days that will stand out in your memory as being a moment when history turns around an event or series of events. Last Thursday was that kind of day.

My family and I traveled from our home in New Durham, NH to Concord to attend the inauguration of Governor Maggie Hassan, who made history this fall by being elected to the governor’s office at the same time that New Hampshire elected an all-female congressional delegation. In addition, Governor Hassan was sworn in by New Hampshire’s female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Linda Dalianis. We were honored to be present to meet Governor Hassan and congratulate her with our family. It was important to us to bring our daughter so that she might see strong, compassionate women working to make a difference in the world.

The Morgan family with New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan.

The Morgan family in front of the New Hampshire State House.

The Governor had asked Charlie to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of the ceremony, and I was filled with pride to watch her speak.  Just a few short weeks ago, I would have wondered if it would be possible at all because Charlie’s battle with cancer required every bit of energy that she could muster.  Last week, she was able to speak with a strong voice and a strong spirit and represent our family, the New Hampshire National Guard and our state in a historic moment.

Back in October 2011, Charlie and I decided, as a family, that we would do what we could to fight for marriage equality.  When Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed last year we were finally allowed to be recognized as a couple by Charlie’s employer, the New Hampshire National Guard.  We converted our civil union to marriage, and I was finally allowed to be officially recognized as a mother to the beautiful little girl I had been caring for since infancy.  Our fight was made more urgent because Charlie was diagnosed with a recurrence of the breast cancer she had beaten just a few years earlier.  Marriage equality is a social and financial issue that affects same sex couples around the country, and we vowed to fight not just for our family but for others who lived in places or under circumstances that prevent them from speaking out for themselves. 

Last week, Governor Hassan spoke about the importance of being inclusive.  She spoke about bringing people in from the margins of society and of how these actions can make our state and our nation stronger.  As I listened, I reflected on how the military became a stronger institution when it began to allow gay people to serve openly.  I also reflected on how New Hampshire refused to repeal same-sex marriage earlier this year and the relief that I felt when that happened.  Businesses that welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and provide benefits to their families have stronger and more diverse workforces.  I recalled how proud I felt ten years ago when I worked for a Knight Ridder newspaper that extended benefits to Charlie as my spouse.  It allowed me to provide health insurance for her while she went back to school.
Although our federal government prevents me from obtaining benefits as a military spouse today, I listened to Governor Hassan, and I knew that there are good people out there supporting us in the fight for marriage equality.  It gave me hope and renewed inspiration to keep up our efforts even when times are tough for our family.

Although much work remains to be done, today was a very good day and I know we will get there.  I anticipate that eventually there will come a day when young people of my daughter’s generation will read about our fight for marriage equality and equal rights and wonder why it was ever an issue at all.  That’s my goal and the best way I can think of to give back to a world that’s given me so much.

About the author: Karen Morgan is the wife of CW2 Charlie Morgan, and the two are plaintiffs in OutServe-SLDN’s federal lawsuit challenging the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). For more information on the Morgan family and their fight for equality, click here.