Women’s Shelter Asks Court to Block Ordinance That Would Allow Men to Sleep Near Abused Women

A homeless women’s shelter has asked a court to stop the government from forcing them to provide shelter for men.

Some of the women in Downtown Hope Center in Anchorage, Alaska, could have fled domestic violence situations. If the city gets its way, the Christian shelter must allow men to sleep near these women and use the same private facilities.

It all started when the shelter called and paid for a taxi for a drunk and injured man who came into the shelter. He accused the shelter of refusing to allow him to stay because he was a man. He filed a complaint with the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on the shelter’s behalf, asking the court for a temporary injunction.

The city dropped the complaint and agreed with the shelter to make the injunction permanent. Then something changed.

But since the city’s first loss in federal court, the Anchorage Assembly has amended the city ordinance in an attempt to find a new way to target Downtown Hope Center and force it to let males sleep next to women who have been abused.

“Women deserve a place to sleep where they can feel secure,” ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson said. “Downtown Hope Center serves everyone, but its overnight women’s shelter exists to provide a safe place for women, many of whom have survived sex trafficking, rape, or domestic violence at the hands of men. City officials have no business trying to force the center to violate its beliefs by demanding that the shelter allow men to sleep mere feet from these vulnerable women. This is the second attempt by the city to force Downtown Hope Center to violate its religious beliefs to the detriment of the women it serves, and we are asking the court to halt the city’s actions while our litigation continues.”

Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom

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