Saturday, February 18, 2006

Laurel Hester 
This morning I received an email from Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality:
The pain in my having to convey this news to you is enormous.

Lieutenant Laurel Hester died this morning, Saturday, February 18, 2006.

Millions came to know Lieutenant Hester as one of the most courageous citizens who graced the State of New Jersey. The LGBTI community came to know her as a symbol of our hopes and dreams for equality. We at Garden State Equality, whose lives were intertwined with hers these past many months as we fought for benefits for her partner Stacie, knew Lieutenant Hester personally as a selfless, radiant human being.

Even in her abject time of suffering, Lieutenant Hester lived with steadfast love for all of those around her. She was one of the most beautiful people, to the core of her soul, God put on this good earth. She was kind, caring, brilliant, charismatic and other-directed. She was a cherished friend, life partner and selfless partner in justice.

Her courage in fighting the Ocean County Freeholders brought to life why we in the LGBTI community are fighting for marriage equality. Lieutenant Hester gave a face and a story to our struggle. If we win marriage equality, we will be able to point to Laurel Hester and her partner Stacie Andree as the couple, as much as any other, who made history happen.

To be sure, Lieutenant Hester has already left a legacy to the world. The thousands she protected in Ocean County, and the counties across New Jersey she inspired to provide domestic partnership benefits in the last stage of her life, guarantees she will be remembered by generations to come.

Touching the hearts of millions, changing the minds of five stubborn men, and finally winning the battle that will allow her partner to live in the home they built together, Lieutenant Laurel Hester was able to die in peace.

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