Activist Laurel Hester Dies

Wed Feb. 22, 2006 8:54 PM EST

Laurel Hester, the New Jersey police lieutenant who fought for the right to leave her pension to her longtime domestic partner Stacie Andree, succumbed to lung cancer on Sunday. Hester, a 23 year investigator, made headlines last month when she pressed city officials in Ocean County, New Jersey to pass a domestic partnership resolution provided for by the Domestic Partnership Act which "gives counties and cities the power to extend pension and health care benefits to the gay partners of employees if they so choose."

Following several months of heated debate and wavering, the Ocean County freeholders eventually reversed their original decision on January 25th, granting police and fire department employees the freedom to designate their own pension beneficiaries. Thanking freeholders, and present despite the advice of her medical team, Hester told them "you have made yourselves an example of what democracy is all about." Laurel Hester certainly did not intend to become an activist, but she nonetheless became a hero in the fight for equality.