October 7, 2019-
It’s a hectic morning at the home of Kathleen O’Donnell and her wife, Casey. Kathleen is getting their 4-year-old foster daughter ready for the park. She got placed with them overnight. Casey is wrangling the four dogs. They’ve already got their 11-year-old son off to school. They live on a tree-lined street in Billings, Mont. It’s a place they’ve called home since 2014. “All of my family lives in Billings, so with a kid we wanted to be near them,” Kathleen said.
But when the same-sex couple made the move, they knew it came with risks. While five Montana cities have local nondiscrimination ordinances on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Billings, the state’s largest city, is not one of them. Nor does the state have an explicit law that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, employment or public accommodations. Neither do more than half of U.S. states, leaving millions to rely on a patchwork of protections that vary depending on where they happen to live.