Victory for Laurel Hester!

A nice surprise in New Jersey.

Published January 23, 2006 3:57PM (EST)

It looks like New Jersey detective Laurel Hester is on the verge of an unexpected victory in her battle to ensure that her pension benefits will go to her partner, Stacie Andree!

The Ocean County Observer is reporting that the Republican freeholders of Ocean County, N.J., have changed their minds -- yes, it does happen! -- and will vote this Wednesday to extend pension benefits to Andree, as well as to other domestic partners of members of the Police and Fire Retirement System. The freeholders made the decision yesterday during a teleconference.

Republican state Sen. Andrew Ciesla has also asked the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services to prepare a bill that he will sponsor, which, if enacted, would allow members of the Police and Fire Retirement System to leave their benefits to anyone they choose. That's a benefit that the state's other public employees already receive.

The freeholders scheduled the Wednesday vote in light of the rapidly declining health of 49-year-old Hester, a 23-year veteran of the police force. Suffering from lung cancer, she has been fighting for months to secure pension benefits for her longtime partner, Andree; without them, Andree would not be able to keep the house the couple share in Point Pleasant.

James F. Lacey, a freeholder from Brick, told the Observer, "I think we're doing the right thing now. I feel comfortable."

Broadsheet has been following this story closely. (See previous posts here and here and here.) We are surprised and thrilled to hear of today's change of heart.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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