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(Cross-posted at BlueJersey)

A 7th county (Camden County) in New Jersey will pass domestic partner benefits tonight. A 24 year veteran of the Ocean County prosecutor's office has lung cancer that has spread to her brain. Her dying wish is that her pension benefits be passed on to her partner, who will otherwise not be able to afford to keep their home. Ironically, we have the bigoted Ocean County freeholders who have stubbornly refused to grant her that wish to thank for the advancement of gay rights in New Jersey.

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When Garden State Equality Chair Steven Goldstein stood up to address Ocean County's freeholder's last night, he sarcastically thanked them for doing so much to advance the gay rights movement:
"Not since police raided a bar called Stonewall in Greenwich Village in the 1960s have any five people advanced the cause of gay rights as much as you have."
As one speaker last night noted, Ocean County has become the "poster child for the homophobia in New Jersey." Disgusted by their heartless inaction and wanting to avoid a similar fate, other counties have since acted to pass domestic partner benefits to county employees. They include Bergen, Hudson, Mercer, and Union. Recently, Monmouth County - a Republican controlled county neighboring Ocean, passed domestic partner benefits. Last night, while Ocean County's freeholders filibustered for hours, the Passaic County freeholders unanimously voted 7-0 to do likewise.

Tonight, Camden County will become the first county in South Jersey - and the seventh in the state - to grant domestic partner benefits to government employees. According to Steven Goldtein, "This demonstrates the unified disgust of all New Jersey -- North, Central and South -- with the grotesque hatred the Ocean County Freeholders have for Lieutenant Laurel Hester."

(And if there's any doubt that Ocean County has become the poster child of homophobia, take a look at all the press they've generated just today: NY Times, Star Ledger, Asbury Park Press, Press of Atlantic City, Advocate, 365Gay.com)

Laurel will die soon from her cancer, but she can rest peacefully knowing that her bravery, even while suffering from her disease, has advanced the rights of thousands of gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey.

Originally posted to jmelli on Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 01:33 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  One more strike (none)
    against governments of fat, white men. (The Ocean County Freeholders, that is).

    (I can say that because I, myself, am a fat white man.)

    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. -- Thomas Jefferson [-4.25, -5.33]

    by GTPinNJ on Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 01:43:25 PM PST

  •  47% of New Jersey (none)
    Seven counties might not sound like much, but those seven account for a population of 4 million out of a state of just over 8.4 million people.

    Is there are reason that the state legislature didn't make this a statewide measure instead of leaving it up to each county?  That sounds really dumb to me.

    •  yes (4.00)
      A recent new rule was passed saying that State mandates must be paid for by the State. So instead they gave the counties, municipalities, school boards, public universities, etc (about 1600 or so governing bodies) the authority to decide for themselves. It wouldn't have cost much anyway. It was a stupid move, but the NJ legislators are surprisingly weak-kneed when it comes to gay rights, and I think it was determined that this is all they could muster to pass.
  •  Rest peacefully? (4.00)
    I bet she'd rest more peacefully if her partner was getting her benefits. I know I would.
  •  Yu would think (none)
    You would like to think a story like this would get some coverage nationally.

    I guess she doesn't fit the young white straight and/or Southern female criteria for the conservative media.

    Just like the poor little girl in NYC, Nixzmary Brown, who was tortured to death. Story broke my heart to pieces. If she was a little white Southern girl, it would be frontpage on FOX news.

    The racist homophobic conservative media thrives while the voiceless remain in obscurity.

    "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

    by GregNYC on Thu Jan 19, 2006 at 02:15:08 PM PST

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