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Protecting Female Abuse Victims: Federal Court Rules Anchorage Cannot Force Christian Women's Shelter to Admit Trans Males

(Screenshot credit: Alliance Defending Freedom)

After a lengthy court battle, a federal judge ruled that the city of Anchorage cannot force a faith-based women's shelter to accept trans-identified biological males.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska issued the order Monday, stating that Downtown Hope Center does not represent a place of "public accommodation."

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a non-profit conservative law firm, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the center. Attorneys argued that a local ordinance

"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," 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," Anderson added. "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." 

CBN News reported on the case in 2018 when the city first tried to force the center to admit biological men at the private women's shelter.  

At the time, the Downtown Hope Center filed a federal lawsuit against the city after the shelter referred a drunk and injured man to a hospital to get the care he needed and even paid for his taxi ride there. 

The man who identified as transgender 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 abused and homeless women.  

The city then chose to pursue the complaint against the center, prompting ADF attorneys to file suit on the center's behalf.

The lawsuit pointed out that women using the shelter did not feel safe sleeping or undressing next to biological men. 

"Faith-based nonprofits should be free to serve consistently with their faith without fear of unjust government punishment. This is especially true for ministries that help homeless women who have suffered sexual abuse or domestic violence," said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Tucker, director of ADF's Center for Christian Ministries. 

Tucker continued, "Because no woman should be forced to sleep or disrobe next to a man, we are pleased the court has allowed Downtown Hope Center to continue protecting women and operating according to its religious beliefs." 

Downtown Hope Center strives to restore the lives of those staying at the shelter by offering career training. Guests are given the opportunity to learn job skills for the food industry by working in the center's bakery or by attending culinary school.

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