For same-sex couples in New Jersey’s Monmouth County, but not for Laurel Hester. Still her story is compelling that even Republicans are capable of getting it.
Spurred by a controversial case in neighboring Ocean County, the Monmouth County freeholders voted unanimously yesterday to extend pension benefits to the domestic partners of select gay and lesbian employees.
The measure — approved by a 4-0 vote, with one absence — affects a relatively small number of county employees but carries important symbolic significance, said Steven Goldstein, the chairman of Garden State Equality, a gay rights group.
“It’s an extraordinary step,” Goldstein said. “This is a Republican freeholder board voting to expand gay rights. That’s what’s so extraordinary about this.”
All five members of the freeholder board are Republican.
The vote changes pension rules for county-employed law enforcement personnel, giving them the same discretion other county workers have in choosing a beneficiary for their pensions.
For her part, Hester cheered the decision. Admirable, when you reflect that at this point she probably knows she is going to die without getting justice, as the Ocean County Freeholders are
Hester, who has been told she has only a few months to live and who can no longer walk on her own, praised the Monmouth freeholders yesterday for their “courage.”
“If I were there, I would have given them a standing ovation, and that’s not easy,” she said.
The Ocean County freeholders denied Hester’s request primarily on financial grounds, citing the impact on the state’s deficit-laden pension system. Freeholder John P. Kelly also has voiced concern that a domestic partnership resolution would violate the sanctity of marriage.
…Kelly said the vote in Monmouth County will not influence his position.
“Absolutely not,” he said.
“I have no reaction. That’s their business,” Kelly said when asked for comment on the Monmouth vote. Kelly, chairman of the Law and Public Safety Department, this week said allowing the benefits in Ocean County could cost taxpayers more than $200,000 annually.
As far as the Ocean County Freeholders — and I’m tempted here to start callnig them freeloaders since they seem very concerned with Hester’s benefits returning to the county kitty — are concerned, Hester will die, her benefits will return to the county, Andree will lose their home, and that is right and good because — according to the Freeholders — it is what their god and their constituents want. It is in accordance with their values.
Since it’s effectively the same as robbing the grieving widow and then turning her out into the street i’m disinclined to them of them and their like as “good people” who are merely “misguided.” Far from being misguided, they know exactly what they’re doing. And as for being “good people,” do good people do what the Ocean County Freeholders are doing?
Talk to me some other time about how pushing for marriage has caused a backlash that makes stories like Laurel Hester’s more likely to happen. Hester’s story is probably the clearest example yet of what comes of placating people like the Ocean County Freeholders and their constituents, with or without pushing for marriage. Frankly I’m tired of it, and it has me asking a question out of keeping with the present season, but one I think bears asking anyway where folks like the Ocean County Freeholders are concerned.
How do we make them and their constituents hurt? There are times when I’m fine with letting karma do its work whether I see the results or not, but there are other times when I’d much rather be fate’s delivery boy. So, how do we deliver to them consequences for what they’re doing?