Laurel Hester Denied, Again

This is so unsurprising as to almost not qualify as news, but Laurel Hester — a lesbian dying of cancer, who spent 21 years of her life to serving the cause of justice as an investigator for the Ocean County NJ prosecutors office, and who simply wishes for her partner to receive her pension benefits in order to keep their home after Hester dies — was denied again.

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.

All five freeholders sat silently as Lieutenant Hester, 49, appeared onscreen. “I’ve been diagnosed with several brain tumors, hence the loss of hair,” she said. “In addition, it has spread elsewhere.”

She explained that she wanted to extend her pension benefits to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, 30, a mechanic, so that she can afford to keep the house in Point Pleasant that they bought several years ago. “All I’m asking for is that you sign the resolution and that you make a change,” Lieutenant Hester said in the video, wheezing, “a change for good, a change for righteousness, and a change in the lives of so many people that have dedicated themselves to county government.”

… Gerry P. Little, one of the freeholders, said Lieutenant Hester “is in our prayers and our thoughts.”

With all due respect (in other words, none), fuck you Gerry.

Laurel Hester does not need your damn prayers. Your thoughts count for shit. What she needs is her share of the very same justice she spent 21 years working for in her community. Speaking of her being in your “prayers” and your “thoughts” is little more than, to borrow a phrase from a book you should be more than familiar with, a “tinkling cymbal.”

Simply seeing someone in dire straights and shaking your head while muttering “what a shame” amounts to nothing. Seeing an injustice and feeling bad about it but doing nothing to fix it doesn’t amount to compassion. It’s just noise.

Freeholder John P. Kelly, denying that Lieutenant Hester’s sexual orientation was an issue – over shouts of derision from the audience – said the domestic partnership law was unfair because it did not let siblings or other relatives not married to each other share benefits when they lived together.

Bullshit, John. If Hester’s sexual orientation isn’t an issue then why was this your initial statement about her request.

At least one freeholder, John P. Kelly, the law and public safety chairman, has cited moral reservations, telling the Asbury Park Press it violates — the sanctity of marriage.

Your morals and your values are founded on bigotry and discrimination. Period.

Sorry for the rant folks, but it’s stuff like this and people that sends me over the edge. Even if it’s likely that Hester will die without getting justice, I hope that it’s some small comfort to her and her partner to know that their story has brought about positive change, in other counties establishing domestic partnerships as a result and in the state legislature expanding rights protections for domestic partnerships.

There’s still part of me, however, that just wants to make freeholders feel a little pain — futile as it may be to get them to feel anything, let alone compassion for our families. I guess there’s just no point in it.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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One Response to Laurel Hester Denied, Again

  1. RainbowDemon says:

    I’ve linked to you and this story, bro.
    What a sorry-assed bunch of homophobic assholes…
    Excuse my ‘french’.


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