Family Values Tested in NJ

by TChris

What’s keeping the Ocean County, NJ board from passing a resolution that would permit a law enforcement officer’s death benefits to be paid to her domestic partner?

At the center of the dispute is Lt. Laurel Hester, 49, a 23-year investigator for the Ocean County Prosecutor's office who is fighting lung cancer. Hester wants the county to pass a resolution as provided for by New Jersey's 18-month-old Domestic Partners Act, which gives counties and cities the power to extend pension and health care benefits to the gay partners of employees if they so choose.

Hester, of Point Pleasant, fears that without her $13,000 death benefit, partner Stacie Andree, 30, will be forced to sell the house they now share after Hester die.

More than a hundred other governmental entities in New Jersey have adopted domestic partnership benefit resolutions. And more than a hundred supporters of Hester who attended a rally on her behalf are wondering why Ocean County hasn’t taken that step.

"Shame on you, Ocean County," read a hand-lettered sign carried by Nancy McNeil, 62, of Toms River, who attended in a wheelchair. "My sign says it all," she said. "Who are the freeholders to pass moral judgment on a woman who put her life on the line for them?"

Members of the “family values” crowd who aren’t asking their representatives on the Ocean County Board to support this resolution should be ashamed.

"This is a moral issue," said Suzannah Porter, president of the National Organization for Women's New Jersey chapter. "It's about time that people who talk family values start valuing families."

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    Re: Family Values Tested in NJ (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:24 PM EST
    I picked up on this yesterday and posted about it. I'm glad to see others are picking it up too. The "family values" and "compassionate conservative" crowd need to be called out on their silence. That Hester spent 23 years of her life working on behalf of justice only to have it denied her and her family sends a pretty clear message to gay and lesbian Americans: if you are gay in America, you love at your own risk. Honestly, as a gay man stories like this make me look at this country and ask myself "Why bother?"

    Re: Family Values Tested in NJ (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:25 PM EST
    Terrance: The fight never ends. But that doesn't mean the fight isn't worth it. Never say die.