Radical gender ideology has gotten so out of hand that woke city governments want women’s shelters to also house actual men who say they are women. Most of the women who use those shelters have been physically and sexually abused by men in the past, so it’s more than just an invasion of privacy that’s at stake. It involves psychological, emotional, and physical safety as well.
One such city is Anchorage, Alaska, whose public accommodations ordinance demands that businesses cannot discriminate on the basis of gender identity. When the city demanded that the Downtown Hope Center (Hope Center), a Christian ministry, allow biological men claiming to be women to use its overnight facilities reserved for women, the shelter fought back in court – and won.
U.S. District Court Judge Sharon L. Gleason ruled recently that Hope Center is not a “public accommodation” and is therefore not bound by the city’s public accommodation ordinance.
That’s an important victory for the ministry at a time when government entities around the country continue to push ministries to adhere to laws that violate basic freedoms such as religious exercise and free speech.
Judge Gleason described the work of the ministry in her ruling:
“Hope Center provides meals, showers, laundry services, clothing, job training, and religious ministry to homeless individuals, as well as an overnight shelter for homeless women. The shelter can accommodate up to fifty women per night.
“Due to limited space, the women must all sleep three to five feet apart on the floor of one large room, where they may change clothes or be in various states of undress. Many of the women who stay at Hope Center’s shelter have experienced rape, sex trafficking, physical abuse, and domestic violence, ‘primarily at the hands of men.’”
This judge sees this from a woman’s perspective.
Hope Center’s battle with the city began in 2018, when the shelter turned away an inebriated man who demanded to be housed at the facility for the night. A court ruled at the time that the shelter was not a “public accommodation” under Anchorage’s ordinance, and the situation should have been resolved. But city officials amended the ordinance to attempt to bring the shelter within the ordinance’s terms, which prompted Hope Center to file the current lawsuit.
Judge Gleason ruled that Hope Center is not a public accommodation because it is not generally “available to the public,” citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia involving a faith-based foster care agency dealing with a similar type of city nondiscrimination ordinance.
She also noted that in response to Hope Center’s lawsuit, the city disavowed any intention of trying to prosecute the shelter in the future, preventing the type of multiple complaints and prosecutions that Christians such as Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop fame have experienced. Her ruling allows the shelter to proceed to recover damages for the violation of its rights.
Kate Anderson, Senior Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, represents the shelter. She hailed the judge’s ruling in a press release.
“Vulnerable women deserve a safe place to stay overnight, and we’re pleased that they can sleep soundly, at least for the time being, due to the court’s order,” 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.
“This is the second time Anchorage officials have targeted the center for operating according to its religious beliefs and serving the city’s homeless population. We hope the court’s order puts an end to this.”
The case is The Downtown Soup Kitchen, d/b/a Hope Center v. Municipality of Anchorage.
Photo from Shutterstock.