A little bit of politics (or another reason why Mrs Gripes and myself will be registering a Civil Partnership)

It isn't often that I get overtly queer-political, or feel in any way proud to be British. This is one of those occasions, however: by the passing of a law recognising gay relationships as "Civil Partnerships" the following is a situation that from 21st December this year should not happen in the UK. (-Not saying it won't happen: money protects money, and I have a suspicion that non- registered gay couples may well face similar legal issues...)

To put pressure on the "Freeholders" of Ocean County to reverse their decision, I have emailed them expressing my disappointment at their injustice. Feel free to do the same if you feel similarly.

Below is a direct "steal" from this article to give you some context (news is only archived on the ukgaynews.org.uk servers for 7 days).

Dane Wells is a retired police officer who worked with Lt. Laurel Hester, the gay police officer in Ocean County, New Jersey, who has been denied “domestic partner benefits” for her long-term same-sex partner Stacie Andree. Lt. Hester is terminally ill with lung cancer.

For nearly half a century now, I have been proud to call myself an Ocean County native.

Among the many highlights of my life have been the years I spent in law enforcement with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, where I worked alongside Lt. Laurel Hester.

I have also enjoyed the good fortune of experiencing this grand American experiment of ours from myriad angles.

I have served as an elected official, as an appointed official in various capacities, as an employee of government, and, in perhaps the most important role of all, as citizen and voter.

From those varied perspectives, I have observed thousands upon thousands of government employees.

I have yet to encounter another public servant more devoted, more dedicated, more loyal or more hard-working than Laurel Hester.

To this very day, I see news headlines that would not exist but for her untiring efforts over two decades ago.

Laurel entered law enforcement at a time when female officers faced an even steeper uphill climb than they do today.

She brought to the profession a refreshing array of qualities it was lacking in those days; things like tenacity and compassion and incredible efficiency.

Whether we like to admit it or not, there are differences between men and women and Laurel brought to police work countless qualities that I believe only a woman could.

As a result, I saw a heck of a lot of men in a male-dominated profession feeling threatened by all those things Laurel was introducing.

But I also watched in utter amazement as she slowly but surely gained the trust and confidence of the strapping 250-pound state troopers and the oftentimes holier-than-thou federal agents.

And all of a sudden there it was before my very eyes: a woman cop being accepted by her male colleagues.

I was witness to Laurel Hester making history.

I saw a pioneer among women in police work always working twice as hard for half the credit.

And then I saw her taking her half of that credit and giving it away to a man in the interest of cultivating the harmony and respect always in her wake.

In Laurel, I was seeing then the evolution of social progress, much as we are all seeing the very same thing swirling around her today.

I will take to my grave the vivid memories of the times Laurel and I spent working on cases together.

The frigid January nights in the back of a frost-encrusted surveillance van struggling with frozen fingers to focus a seemingly endless telephoto lens on the images of shadowy figures engaged in some sort of shenanigans under the cover of darkness.

And we took some lumps together wrestling to the ground our share of drug dealers in the relentless heat of an August afternoon or two on the sandy beaches of Seaside Heights.

We sledgehammered the doors of fortress-like drug dens with nothing more that wooden night sticks and 1940s-era revolvers.

Reasonable salaries and overtime were just a dream.

No cop in the world could ever ask for better backup than that provided by Laurel Hester.

While she may seem to us today a frail and fragile figure, let me tell you she could mete out “necessary force” with the best of them.

And, not surprisingly, I don’t recall anyone ever checking on the gender of her partner when needing her help.

Personally, I never knew the answer to that question and didn’t care.

Now I know.

I still don’t care.

Of course not everyone agrees on things like religion and government.

Indeed, that's what America is all about.

That said, I think anyone is hard pressed today in claiming our Board of Freeholders does not provide us with pretty good government year after year.

At the very least, it's an opinion that's rather well quantified at the polls on a regular basis.

But I have just seen something go horribly awry.

I have seen justice denied to someone who spent her life ensuring justice for the rest of us.

I have seen my government turn its back on a loyal servant.

I have seen a human being skewered – apparently on religious grounds – and I just can’t for the life of me understand how any god being worshiped by anyone in this county could possibly approve of this.

Laurel Hester’s last request is not about politics, religion, or economics.

It’s not about the “sanctity of marriage” or any of the other things we've been hearing about.

But it is about morality.

It is about human dignity.

It is about at least some minimal amount of goodness many of us want so desperately to find in the essence of human existence.

It is about a base level of decency we expect to be inherent in 21st-century America.

Like a growing number of people these days, I’m not finding a whole lot I can respect about modern politicians, especially in New Jersey.

But one quality I will always greatly admire in any person – politician or otherwise – is the ability to recognize a mistake, admit it, fix it, and move on.

We all make them, but sometimes it takes the more towering among us to admit it.

I respectfully suggest the time has come for us to admit this hiccup in the progress of Ocean County’s longstanding progressive government; rise above money, politics, and personal religious beliefs; and unite as good and decent human beings to cradle Lt. Laurel Hester in the collective arms of the compassionate and civilized society we call Ocean County.

■ Representations to the Freeholders of Ocean County can be made to the Clerk of the Board at (732) 288 7777 or, from outside the USA +1 732 288 7777. The email address is CountyConnection@co.ocean.nj.us


creepylesbo said...

The problem I have with it is that so many couples I know who haven't been together long are rushing to get this piece of paper. What concerns me is that they won't stick with it and will end up leaving each other - which isn't good for the stats and is even less good for their own mental well being. I do agree it should be there as a choice but I think people should seriously consider it as a life commitment and not just rush into it like so many heterosexual spur of the moment marriages. Set a good example, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

So you are not getting married then? *ducks*

The Gripes of Wrath said...

Creepy, I don't disagree with you in the slightest: it's scary that so many "idealistic" new couples might be getting legally bound together without realising the consequences - particularly as so many lesbian couples seem to get the 3.5year itch...

And no, m'dear fuzzyarse, it ain't a marriage: no matching meringue frocks, no cake, no confetti...in fact, as little fuss as possible. As well you know... Tsk tsk...

straighttalker05 said...

I obviously thing that Civil Partnerships are a step in the right direction.

However this whole kefuffle over the new equality legislation shows just how tokenistic the civil partnerships legislation really was.

The story about your friend is very poignant - shows how much value society places on the individual. My thoughts are with her and her family.

Gabreael said...

Very well put. Since I am a firm beleiver in reincarnation I know we reincarnate as male & females. So who are we to judge?