1/29/2006

Latest on Dying Cop's Last Wish

Ocean County freeholders officially voted on Jan. 25th to allow Lauren Hester to transfer her pension benefits to her partner, Stacie Andree, so Stacie won't lose their home when Lauren inevitably dies of cancer.

Republicans who in the past have opposed recognizing same-sex couples feared a voter backlash after news coverage of the Hester case and Ocean County lawmakers' refusal to be moved by an emotional appeal the dying woman made last week from her hospital room.

Appearing weak, and breathing with the help of a machine, she said on a video tape that was played in the council chamber she feared partner Stacie Andree would lose the home they shared after Hester dies.

Wednesday Hester showed up at the freeholder's meeting against the advice of her doctor. She was in a wheelchair and hooked up to any oxygen tank. A mask covered her face and hands.

The 4 - 0 vote, with one absentee, was greeted with applause and cheers from dozens of gays who packed the chamber.

Following the vote in a voice barely audible Hester thanked the freeholders saying it "was democracy at its best."

"The freeholders today were kind, elegant, compassionate in their feelings," Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality told 365Gay.com

Goldstein said "it was a surrealistic moment...only a few weeks ago [the freeholders] were some of the toughest opponents I have ever encountered.

New Jersey state law allows local government to provide benefits to the same-sex partners of their workers. As a result of the Hester case a number of communities that had not already done so quickly moved to amend their laws.


The comments of Hester and Goldstein are MORE than kind. This poor woman should have never gone through this anguish and torment. No one should ever have to worry if their partner will be okay after they are gone. BUT, as usual, politicians were concerned about votes, not the person in need.

Sometimes, you just have to do what is right and good for others. The saying "death is the great equalizer" certainly has new meaning in this case. It seems Lauren has changed some hearts and minds in the most painful and heartbreaking way.

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