A battered women’s shelter in Anchorage, Alaska, is being investigated by the city’s Equal Rights Commission because it didn’t allow a drunk man, who came to the shelter after hours and was bleeding from an injury, to sleep in the same room as women.
Attorneys speaking on behalf of the Downtown Hope Center have repeatedly stated this man, who identifies as a woman, was not turned away because of his gender, but was sent to a hospital that night in January to get the medical treatment he needed. Shelter officials even paid for his cab fare to ensure that his wounds could be treated in a timely fashion. Yet the commission is investigating the shelter’s actions, arguing that it violated a city ordinance that was amended in 2015 to include a prohibition on discrimination based on “sexual orientation and gender identity to the grounds of discrimination.”
The Hope Center serves meals, gives away clothing, and offers job skills to both men and women during the daytime hours, but at night offers a space for women, many of whom have suffered from sexual and physical abuse at the hands of men, a safe space to spend the night.
Attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the faith-based women’s shelter, say the ordinance specifically exempts shelters from having to comply with the amended version of the ordinance, which means the Hope Center has not broken any laws.
“It should go without saying, but protecting vulnerable women isn’t illegal,” ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson said in a statement. “Because the center hasn’t violated any law, we are asking the court to stop the city from continuing its baseless attack on this remarkable and needed outreach to homeless, battered, and sexually exploited women.”
In August the Hope Center filed a federal lawsuit against the city and on Thursday, the attorneys representing the shelter filed a motion in federal court seeking an injunction to stop city officials from misapplying the amended ordinance.