The Last Days of Laurel Hester

Before Christmas I wrote an entry at Folkbum’s blog about Laurel Hester, a woman from New Jersey who is dying of cancer and who is using her last breaths to fight for her pension to be left to her partner, Stacie Andree. Although the state of New Jersey allows domestic partners of its employees to receive pension benefits, it also allows the “freeholders” of each county to deny the benefits. And unfortunately this is the case for Laurel.

The five freeholders who manage the county have continually ignored and denied Laurel’s request. Apparently, allowing Laurel to leave money to Stacie violates the sanctity of marriage.

Yesterday Laurel, who worked for the state for 24 years, made her final plea to the freeholders. And once again, they said no.

This means that when Laurel dies, Stacie will not only lose the love of her life, but she will most likely lose the house they own because she will not be able to afford payments on it.

It is a sad and infuriating story, and one that clearly illustrates the ways in which denying marriage to LGBT people hurts families. Like I said in my post at Folkbum, our opponents often tout that LGBT people are only interested in the “rights” of marriage, not the responsibilities.

But obviously, we’re ready, more than willing, and already are, taking on those responsibilities as evident by Laurel and Stacie’s relationship and thousands of other committed couples around Wisconsin and the rest of the country.

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