News, Wit & Commentary for Lesbians
JIC Post:From Associated PressIn a reversal in the face of months of protests by gay-rights advocates, Ocean County freeholders are poised to extend death benefits to the partner of a veteran detective dying of lung cancer, according to published reports. Freeholder James F. Lacey told the Ocean County Observer for Saturday newspapers that the freeholders now plan to extend pension benefits to the domestic partner of Lt. Laurel Hester, a 23-year veteran of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.The benefit is also to be extended to other members of the Police and Fire Retirement System in a vote expected at a freeholder's meeting this Wednesday."I think we're doing the right thing now," Lacey told the newspaper. "I feel comfortable."The decision was made after a teleconference Friday among Republican leaders in the county, including state Sens. Andrew Ciesla and Leonard T. Connors."They wanted to discuss this," Connors told the paper. "The freeholders want to give this lady's companion the benefits that others get."New Jersey's nearly two-year-old Domestic Partners Act gives counties and cities the power to extend pension and health care benefits to the gay partners of employees if they choose.Forty-nine-year-old Hester, of Point Pleasant, has said without her $13,000 death benefit her partner of six years, Stacie Andree, will be forced to sell the house they now share after Hester's death, expected within six months.The apparent reversal came two days after advocacy group Garden State Equality presented videotaped statement of Hester at last Wednesday's freeholder meeting. In the video Hester, hairless and struggling to breath with the aid of a respirator, asked freeholders to "make a change for good, a change for righteousness.""This is one of the happiest days of my life," Hester said in a statement Saturday. "I feel like David conquering Goliath."Phone messages left by the Associated Press Saturday at the homes of Lacey and three other county freeholders were not immediately returned.
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