JUSTICE: Ocean County Freeholders Will Award Domestic Partner Benefits to Laurel Hester

by: Juan Melli
Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 10:00:26 AM EST

(Welcome AMERICABlog readers! Click here to read more about Laurel Hester.)
“This is one of the happiest days of my life…I feel like David conquering Goliath,” said Laurel Hester on Saturday morning.

After nearly a year of refusing to grant Lt Laurel Hester the right to pass her pension benefits on to her partner, Ocean County’s freeholders will finally grant Hester her dying wish when they vote on Wednesday.

Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality: “Truth be told, we did lose hope for a reversal in the last couple of weeks. We had applied all the pressure in the world, embarrassing the freeholders and few public servants had ever been embarrassed before in the state of New Jersey or in this country, and they would not budge. Finally they did. Hallelujah! There is a God….Now that the Ocean County freeholders have done the right thing, we thank them with all our hearts and welcome them to the New Jersey of the 21st Century, where compassion and common-sense prevails over hatred and outmoded homophobia.”

The change of heart came after the freeholders had a political meeting with other Republican leaders in the county.

Freeholder James Lacey: “I think we’re doing the right thing now. I feel comfortable.”

But there’s more:
In addition, state Sen. Andrew Ciesla, R-Ocean, has asked the state Office of Legislative Services to prepare a bill he will sponsor that will eliminate the difference in the pension inheritance rights of members of the police and fire retirement system and other state public employee retirement systems.
I want to thank the freeholders for deciding to do the right thing before Laurel dies. Today is a monumental victory for civil rights. Justice prevailed over bigotry, and a Laurel Hester can die in peace knowing she left the world better than she found it.

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Juan Melli :: JUSTICE: Ocean County Freeholders Will Award Domestic Partner Benefits to Laurel Hester
Tags: justice, lesbian, gay, Laurel Hester, civil rights, Ocean County, freeholders, domestic partner, (All Tags)
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JUSTICE: Ocean County Freeholders Will Award Domestic Partner Benefits to Laurel Hester | 9 comments
This is GREAT News (4.00 / 1)
Shows the power of a concerted effort to do good. COngratulations to everyone who worked this issue, and particularly to Lt Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree.
by: huntsu Blue Jersey Star. Click for more information. @ Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 09:03:36 AM CST
Best News (4.00 / 1)
There is a little more fairness in the world this Saturday morning.

-Sharon GR
by: Sharon GR @ Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 09:12:06 AM CST
Excellent (4.00 / 1)
Excellent.
I hope, in whatever manner they are to be applied, that our legislators, when considering any changes in our state pension law, keep in mind the words of Freeholder John P. Kelly…”The law has to be inclusive, not exclusive.”

Everyone is Included…All People, All Places, All Ways
by: Ed Rosenberg @ Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 10:45:52 AM CST
Victory! (4.00 / 1)
Wow, so maybe blogging and press efforts really do have an impact on politics.
Personally, I think it was the New York Times article that really finished them off.

Congratulations Lt. Hester and GSE.

So what is that, 8 counties down, only 13 more to go.

Media In Trouble
by: Media In Trouble @ Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 10:45:55 AM CST
it’s not clear yet (4.00 / 1)
it’s not clear yet if this will apply just to Laurel or to all domestic partners in Ocean County:
Whether Wednesday’s vote will apply only to Hester or will be extended to all same-sex partners of county workers is not yet known.

by: Juan Melli @ Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 11:10:59 AM CST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but … (0.00 / 0)
After giving it to Laurel it will be real hard to deny it in the future. The progressive community has already shown it will slap them around hard if they don’t, so I wouldn’t expect them to try.
by: huntsu Blue Jersey Star. Click for more information. @ Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 13:16:22 PM CST
[ Parent ]
Sweet. (4.00 / 1)
Wow.
I watched the Freeholders’ faces closely at the last meeting, trying to figure out if they were genuinely unmoved (hard to imagine), or just working hard at putting up a good front.

I tried not to hope.

What a relief to know that Laurel won’t have to put her waning energy into this fight anymore.

Sweet.

To insanity… and beyond! (Apologies to Buzz Lightyear.)
by: Shelley @ Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 11:03:04 AM CST
Truly Amazing (4.00 / 1)
Haven’t seen such good news in quite awhile, and what a testament — as others have said above — to concerted grassroots action.
I wrote the freeholders several weeks ago urging them to change their position. Now I intend to contact them again with thanks and appreciation. I encourage others to do the same. Their e-mail address is:

[email protected]

Whatever joy and lightness I feel today though is tempered by the realization that it took a dying woman to achieve this victory. Laurel, thank you for your resolve and courage, and for helping make New Jersey a more just and tolerant state. My thoughts and love are with you.
by: noodletalk @ Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 12:25:53 PM CST
great news (4.00 / 1)
Thanks for sharing it with us here and at dailykos.

John McCain filibustered a minimum wage increase.
by: Hopeful Blue Jersey Star. Click for more information. @ Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 12:27:17 PM CST
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JUSTICE: Ocean County Freeholders Will Award Domestic Partner Benefits to Laurel Hester | 9 comments