January 19th, 2006

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Dying Officer Again Turned Down on Benefits for Companion

Another reason the protections of Marriage (tm) would be useful.

January 19, 2006 By DAMIEN CAVE, NY Times
TOMS RIVER, N.J., Jan. 18 - Rejecting an emotional videotaped plea from a lesbian police lieutenant on the verge of death, Ocean County's freeholders declined once again on Wednesday to approve a resolution that would let county employees pass on their pension benefits to domestic partners.

For more than a year, the freeholders have repeatedly refused to consider the resolution, and their opposition has become increasingly controversial over the past few months.

On Wednesday, it appeared likely that the lieutenant, Laurel Hester, a veteran investigator in the county prosecutor's office, would die without seeing her quest fulfilled. Friends said she probably had only a few weeks to live.

Perhaps as a result, the monthly meeting of the freeholders created an atmosphere of electric urgency. Every seat in the wood-paneled room on Hooper Street here was filled, mostly with Lieutenant Hester's supporters, including clergymen, veterans and fellow officers. Over the course of two hours, shouting matches over morality ruptured the civility common at county meetings.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a New Jersey gay rights group, began the period of public comment by sarcastically thanking the freeholders for advancing the cause of gay marriage by turning Lieutenant Hester into a martyr. He then picked up a laptop computer and played the video of what he said was likely her final plea for help.Read more...Collapse )