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Queer of the Year

Joe. My. God is taking noms…

“Which queer person most advanced the state of the gay rights movement in 2006?”

…2006 has been a fascinating, maddening, heartening year. Many (some would say, most) of the highest profile queer news events have arisen from scandal. You are welcome to consider whether the persons involved in these scandals may have unwittingly or unwillingly contributed to the advance of gay rights by exposing hypocrisy, cynicism, or discrimination.

You can post your nominations in Joe’s comments by Friday, December 15th. There will be five finalists the final voting period, which begins Monday, December 18 and end on Sunday, December 31st.

The winner will be announced January 3rd.

Boy so many to consider — Haggard? Mike Jones? Mary Cheney (thought I’d never say that one)?

In my mind, one of the most important people of the year has to be the late Laurel Hester, the former NJ police officer who was repeatedly told by the Ocean County Freeholders, as she battled terminal cancer,  that she couldn’t leave her pension to her partner Stacie Andree.

In the end, the five Republican Freeholders did the right thing after a groundswell of public outrage, calls, blogging, emails and critical TV and newspaper coverage shamed them into doing so. Hester died shortly after winning a right married couples take for granted.

Hester’s story surely guided the thinking of the NJ Supreme Court in its decision to rule that gays and lesbians are entitled to the same rights as straight couples when it comes to civil marriage. If only Laurel Hester could have lived to see this come to pass. See prior Blend posts here.

Here’s a video Laurel made shortly before her passing.

A documentary, Freeheld, by Cynthia Wade, chronicles Laurel’s fight for justice. It will be shown at the Sundance Film Festival, according to co-producer Matt Syrett, who emailed me the wonderful news. Wade lived with Laurel and Stacie during this emotional and public battle.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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