After Being Told ‘I Do Not Rent to Your Kind,’ Montana Woman Shares Power of Storytelling

By Adam Polaski • December 21, 2017 • 1:06 pm

Editor’s Note: This op-ed was written by Kathleen O’Donnell, who lives with her wife Casey and her child in Laurel, MT. Read their full story here.

You can support Freedom for All Americans Education Fund’s work here.

“It doesn’t really happen anymore.” – That’s what most people think at the thought of LGBTQ people facing discrimination.

I used to think that, too – until I experienced discrimination firsthand.

A few years ago, I was searching for a new apartment to live in with my fiancée Casey and our child – the apartment in which we wanted to start building our life together. But when the landlord asked if Casey was “a girl or a boy” and I said she’s a woman, he shut me down, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “I do not rent to your kind.”

I shared the story with friends and family members, with my local representatives and community members, and I started to hear more and more stories like mine. There’s no doubt about it – discrimination against LGBTQ people is alive and persistent in my home state of Montana and across the country, but too many Americans are unaware.

LGBTQ people don’t have state-level protections in Montana. In fact, 32 states lack full protections. What happened to me – being told “I do not rent to your kind” because of my sexual orientation – could have happened in a majority of states.

It happens every single day – and for many LGBTQ people, discrimination is a daily reality. Shortly after being denied the apartment rental, I was fired from my job at a car dealership, leaving me unemployed for months. The owner said he didn’t like me, and when I asked my colleague why, he said it was because I’m gay.

No one should have to endure the humiliation, fear, and loss of income that come from anti-LGBTQ discrimination. It’s time for us all to put our foot down.

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