The Ocean County Chapter of the National Organization for Women invites the public to a free screening of the Academy Award-winning documentary film "Freeheld" at 6:45 p.m. tonight in Mancini Hall in the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library.
The 2007 short documentary, directed by Cynthia Wade, details the struggle of County Detective Lt. Laurel Hester, diagnosed with terminal cancer, to leave her pension to Stacie Andree, her registered domestic partner of five years. Hester had worked for the county for 25 years and was 49 when she died in February 2006.
Although the freeholders had the option all along to allow county employees to leave their pension benefits to domestic partners, it was only after public protests and a long struggle with the freeholders that they passed a measure allowing that.
That enabled Hester to leave her pension to her partner, Andree, so she could afford to make mortgage payments on the couple's home in Point Pleasant Borough.
It was the year that Hester died, in 2006, that the state Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples were constitutionally entitled to all rights and benefits heterosexual couples get through civil marriage, but did not stipulate that these unions were "marriages."
On Dec. 14, 2006, state lawmakers voted to make New Jersey the third state in the nation to allow gay couples to form civil unions with all the rights and responsibilities of married couples, according to the Star Ledger.
Earlier this year, the state Senate and Assembly passed a bill for gay marriage, but Gov. Christie vetoed it.
The film showing is co-sponsored by the Ocean County League of Women Voters and the Unitarian Universality Congregation of Ocean County. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.