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Republican N.J.
county grants DP benefits

Republican N.J.
county grants DP benefits

Ten New Jersey counties now offer benefits to employees' same-sex partners.

The staunchly Republican county of Morris in northern New Jersey quietly voted last month to extended domestic-partnership benefits to same-sex partners of county employees.

With minimal pressure from gay groups, Morris County approved the health and pension benefits in late January, becoming the 10th county in New Jersey to extend such benefits.

"Morris's action will no doubt accelerate the pace of the rest of New Jersey's 21 counties to do the same," said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, New Jersey's gay advocacy group.

Morris County was inspired to grant the domestic-partnership benefits after the story of Laurel Hester came to light--a New Jersey lesbian who, before succumbing to cancer on February 18, had successfully fought for her partner to receive her death benefits-- Goldstein said.

"We're seeing an unbelievable phenomenon in New Jersey now," Goldstein said, "where counties in New Jersey, including Republican counties, are jumping all over each other to expand the rights of the LGBTI community. If ever there was a state that doesn't hate, New Jersey is it." (Advocate.com)

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