Posted: Jul 23, 2013 12:55 PM by Judy Slate
Updated: Jul 23, 2013 12:56 PM
BOZEMAN - Peggy Ash has been a Bozeman police officer for nearly 20 years and is hoping to retire next year. She has a pension that she believed would go to her partner, Kelly Houston, if she died first.
"The reality of it is that if I retire and die 25 months later, Kelly would get nothing despite the fact I've done the same things as married officer," Ash said.
That's because under current Montana law same-sex couples do not have the same rights as married couples. Ash and Houston are one of seven Montana couples that, along with the ACLU, have filed a revised complaint, challenging Montana laws governing rights for same-sex couples.
The ACLU says that the spouses of other 20-year Bozeman Police Department veterans are eligible to collect $1,500 a month for the rest of their lives, but Kelly would receive nothing.
"It's scary. It's scary thinking you could lose everything," Houston said.
That's why the couple decided to join the lawsuit.
"If the least that we have to do is lend our names. - this is us, and we're in this situation - and this is our story. And if that helps change this for other couples in the future, it's worth it," Peggy said.
The lawsuit also addresses worker's compensation and end-of-life decisions for gay couples.