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Homeless shelter to court: Stop Anchorage's hostility toward battered women

Nonprofit challenges city’s attempt to force men into overnight shelter for sexually abused women

Thursday, Jan 10, 2019

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available for media interviews before court hearing in The Downtown Soup Kitchen dba Downtown Hope Center v. Municipality of Anchorage

WHEN: Friday, Jan. 11, before hearing, which begins 1:30 p.m. AKST; please call (480) 444-0020 to book a specific interview time.

WHERE: U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, James M. Fitzgerald U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building, 222 W. 7th Ave., Anchorage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a faith-based women’s shelter will be available for media interviews before a federal court hearing Friday in their lawsuit against Anchorage officials. Downtown Hope Center asked the court in August to stop those officials from misapplying a city ordinance against the ministry after it referred an inebriated and injured man to a hospital and paid for his taxi ride there instead of allowing him to share sleeping quarters with abused and homeless women.

The hearing concerns the center’s request for a preliminary injunction, which would prevent the city from enforcing its ordinance against the center while the lawsuit proceeds.

“All Americans should be free to live out their faith and serve their neighbors—including the battered and homeless—without being targeted or harassed by the government,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman, who will be present at the hearing. “The staff and volunteers at Downtown Hope Center open their arms and their doors, motivated by their faith and deep concern for the vulnerable. Hope Center has gained a reputation for providing a safe, sober, and respectful environment for homeless women, most of whom have suffered rape, physical abuse, or domestic violence. Remarkably, Anchorage is attempting to dismantle and disrupt the ministry’s unique and effective services to the community and harassing them by twisting a law that doesn’t even apply.”

The Anchorage Equal Rights Commission began investigating the shelter for violating the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, after the person who the shelter referred to the hospital filed a complaint. But as ADF attorneys explain, Downtown Hope Center didn’t deny the individual on that basis, and the city’s ordinance specifically exempts homeless shelters regardless.

Women’s-only shelters, including the overnight housing that Downtown Hope Center provides, retain the right to provide housing only to biological females to help ensure that they have a safe place to sleep that does not require close proximity to males.

ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker will argue at the hearing on behalf of Downtown Hope Center.
  • One-page summaryThe Downtown Soup Kitchen dba Downtown Hope Center v. Municipality of Anchorage

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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