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National Guard reverses ruling and will allow lesbian, spouse to attend event

Thursday, October 20, 2011
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NORTH CONWAY, N.H. — The New Hampshire National Guard on Wednesday reversed an earlier ruling that a gay Guardsman could not bring her spouse to an upcoming National Guard event, just one day after U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) contacted Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, asking him to intervene, reported the New Hampshire Union Leader.

In a letter Tuesday letter, Shaheen urged the Department of Defense “in the strongest terms to end a discriminatory policy that bans the same-sex spouses of returning National Guard members from participating in official National Guard family events.”

Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan was forbidden by Guard officials from bringing her spouse, Karen Morgan, to a yellow-ribbon event in North Conway this weekend.

Shaheen said the event is part of an official military reintegration program, designed to help returning soldiers and their families deal with the transition back to life in the United States.

Shaheen said the decision to exclude same-sex couples from the event was based on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and that Morgan was excluded from the event only because she is a lesbian.

“We made the decision as a nation that it was time to allow gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly in our military,” Shaheen said. “It makes no sense to ask them for the same sacrifice we ask of straight soldiers, while denying them the same benefits. We are better than this.”

The National Guard, in reversing its ruling, said language allows Guard members to bring any one person of their choosing, regardless of relationship, to a yellow ribbon event.

For the past 11 years, Morgan and her spouse have been in a civil union, and are parents of a 4-year-old daughter.

Morgan, 47, recently returned home from a deployment to Kuwait.

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