Casey: My name is Casey.
Kathleen: Hello, I’m Kathleen O’Donnell.
Casey: We had our five-year anniversary right before we got married. We have a nine-year-old son. For my son, I think it was important for him to see us taking that extra step to commit to each other in becoming a family, officially.
Kathleen: My uncle actually officiated for us, and it just kind of brought everyone together. Family is something I’ve always valued very closely. So, just sitting there, finally after the pictures are done, the music’s going, and seeing everyone just having a good time – it actually meant a lot to me.
Casey: It’s nice having that support and love around.
Kathleen: I worked for a dealership. The manager called me in. It was a Friday afternoon. You could tell he was upset, and he was like, “I don’t want to tell you this, but I’ve been asked to let you go by Monday.”
So, I just kind of looked him in the face, and I was like, “Why are you firing me?”
And he’s like, “Well, it’s because the owner doesn’t like you.”
I’m like, “Why is that?”
He’s like, “It’s because you’re gay.”
No actions I had taken had led to me being fired, minus marrying a woman.
First thing you think about is that I have a family that I am providing for. I’ve got a kid, I’ve got a wife, like we have bills just like any other people.
After being fired, I was unemployed for three months, and so we had to figure out, ‘Well we can pay this bill, but we absolutely cannot pay this bill,’ and it had to wait. There was no other way around it.
A lot of people have actually asked us, ‘Why have you not left Montana?’ And it’s because Montanans treat each other all like family. If we don’t necessarily agree with each other or we don’t like each other, we don’t want each other to be harmed.
It’s a good place to be. And we don’t want to leave. We want to stay here, we want to be able to live here, and work here, and be protected all at the same time.
Casey: Our family is here. There shouldn’t be a big issue, we’re just asking to be treated the same as everyone else.
Imagine being unfairly fired from your job, because of who you love. For Kathleen, her wife Casey, and their son, living in Montana has come with these challenges.
The family loved living in Montana. Kathleen was excelling at her new job at a car dealership. She was promoted just after a few months of starting there. But shortly after advancing, Kathleen was told by her manager that she was going to be fired the following Monday because the owner and his son didn’t like her because she is gay1.
The new owner and his son ‘did not like me...because I was gay.’
After being unfairly fired, Kathleen was unemployed for three months and lost vital income that would have helped support her family.
The devastating financial and emotional impact of this kind of discrimination is just one reason why it’s so important to Kathleen and her family to have anti-discrimination protections put in place.
Their story is, sadly, not uncommon. Because the family lives in Montana—one of the 31 states in the U.S. that does not protect LGBT2 Americans from discrimination. Like Kathleen, millions of Americans are denied housing, employment, and services because of who they are and who they love.
Montana has passed 3 laws that actively harm LGBT people.Learn more
Can be fired or denied a promotion
Can be evicted from their homes or denied housing
Can be denied service at public establishments, denied medical treatment, or even kicked out of restaurants or businesses
Montana’s total population
Total LGBT population
Of LGBT population raising children