Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys will be in federal court Tuesday in the case of a faith-based women’s shelter being forced by Anchorage officials to admit males and let them sleep alongside women who have suffered physical and sexual abuse. The Anchorage ordinance at issue also shuts down the Downtown Hope Center’s ability to communicate about its religious beliefs on its website and on other signs posted around the center.
The hearing concerns the shelter’s motion for preliminary injunction, which asks the court to halt the city’s actions while the case moves forward.
“Women deserve a place to sleep where they can feel secure,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson. “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.”
In 2018, Downtown Hope Center filed a federal lawsuit against the city after the shelter referred an inebriated and injured man to a hospital to get the care he needed and paid for his taxi ride there. The man later filed a complaint with the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission alleging the center didn’t let him stay at the shelter, where he would have been sleeping next to homeless women—many of whom were victims of physical and sexual abuse. The city then chose to pursue the complaint against the center, prompting ADF attorneys to file suit on the center’s behalf.
The city eventually dropped the complaint, and both the city and the center agreed to make the court’s temporary order against the city permanent. 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.
“All Americans should be free to live out their faith and serve their neighbors without being targeted or harassed by the government. This is especially true for ministries that help homeless women who have suffered sexual abuse or domestic violence,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus, who will argue before the court Tuesday. “Because no woman—particularly not an abuse survivor—should be forced to sleep or disrobe next to a man, we are asking the court to halt the city’s actions for the duration of this case.”
Sonja Redmond, one of nearly 3,500 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel for Downtown Hope Center in the case, Downtown Hope Center v. Municipality of Anchorage, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.
SOURCE Alliance Defending Freedom