It’s all based on the fact that I’m married to somebody that I love.
Imagine being fired from your job just because of who you are. This happened to AJ, a hardworking restaurant manager trying to provide for his family, because he is gay1.
AJ and Josh got married after 18 years of being together—and they were excited to begin a new chapter of their lives in Josh’s home state of Tennessee. They never imagined that their ability to earn a living and provide for one another would be threatened because of their sexual orientation.
It was a very Christian company…[and] that was totally fine, since both Josh and I are Christians.
AJ spent years building his managerial résumé at many reputable companies. After moving to Tennessee to be closer to his husband’s family, he worked with a recruiter to find a job so that he could help provide for his family. “My recruiter originally told me it was a very Christian company and asked me if I was okay with that,” AJ said. “I said that was totally fine, since both Josh and I are Christians.”
He landed the interview but sensed a bias almost immediately. He was repeatedly asked if he was married to a woman. Because of the repeated, pointed questions about his wife, it was clear to AJ that if he were open about his sexual orientation and his partnership with Josh, this opportunity to provide for his family would disappear.
He redirected the interview questions to his professional life and was able to secure the job. AJ was overjoyed but nervous because hiding part of himself seemed like a requirement to keep his job. AJ tried to keep his relationship and personal life private, but was forced to disclose his sexual orientation after he kept being harassed about having a wife.
Once his employer knew he is gay, AJ was treated like a second-class citizen. He was given tasks that were not standard for a manager’s position at his company, like scrubbing the grout in the bathroom floor. Nevertheless, AJ performed these tasks because he needed to keep the job to support his family. But after enduring months of continued harassment and poor treatment, AJ was fired before his 90-day training period was up, in spite of his consistent dedication and hard work.
AJ and Josh had recently purchased a condo, but without AJ’s job, they struggled financially, having to borrow money at one point just to feed their pets. “It’s all based on the fact that I’m married to somebody that I love,” said AJ.
Tennessee is one of 31 states that doesn’t protect LGBT2 people from discrimination, which means hardworking Americans like AJ can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and denied services like medical treatment simply because of who they are and who they love.
Tennessee has passed 8 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
Tennessee’s total population
Total LGBT population
Of LGBT population raising children