The Ocean County Freeholders continue to refuse to support officer Laurel Hester's right to grant her pension benefits to her life partner. Not really news, if you've been following the case at all... the OC Freeholders have seemed pretty "dug in" on this issue throughout. Even in the face of a heartrending video appeal.
What appalled me, sitting there in the County Administration Building yesterday, was seeing how completely unable and unwilling these guys were to "own" their action. (Or, in this case, inaction.)
What the attendees at yesterday afternoon's meeting and the citizens of Ocean County deserve, at the very least, is some kind of explanation. Instead, the OC Freeholders have offered fancy footwork and a de facto filibuster.
For all their protestations of support and compassion, the Freeholders spent most of their time during the public comment session dancing around the one thing they could do at this point to clearly demonstrate their alleged support and compassion.
They won't come out and say that it's about the money. They won't say that they "can't"... because now there are six other NJ counties that can put the lie to that particular bit of political cover. They won't come out and say that it's about protecting the "ideal" of marriage. They won't come out and say that they believe they are representing the wishes of their constituents. They won't come out and say that they're afraid of the consequences of their actions.
They really won't say much of anything.
Which isn't to say they won't talk. They'll talk until they've sucked all the oxygen out of the room. They'll read you the text of the state's domestic partnership law (which of course many of the GLBTIQ people in the room know by heart). They'll refer you to websites. They'll clarify a point that no one asked them to clarify. They'll talk about how flawed NJ's current domestic partnership law is. They'll maddeningly confirm that Laurel Hester could go out and marry some random guy off the street and confer her benefits on him tomorrow. They'll insist on a charade of civility. But at the end of the day, what they'll mostly do is sit on their hands.
At one point, the assembled group of attendees, probably about 200 people although I forgot to count, started chanting, "You have the power, you have the power!" at these guys, because it honestly seems as though they've have completely abdicated their responsibility.
Under my breath, I muttered, "You have the power because we gave it to you. And now, we will take it away."
(crossposted at Bluejersey.net, DFALink, and DKos)