Activist Laurel Hester Dies

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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.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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