October 25, 2006

The New Jersey Supreme Court rules that state lawmakers must provide the rights and benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.   The ruling was a result of the fight of Lieutenant Laurel Hester who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2004 and wanted to  leave her pension benefits to Stacie Andree, her same-sex domestic partner. When the New Jersey county that Hester worked for refused to change its rules to allow this, she fought to get equal treatment for her relationship. Hester’s request was approved shortly before she died at the age of 49 in 2006.  Her story became the subject of an Oscar-winning 2007 documentary and 2015 feature film, both entitled Freeheld.