‘It would not only be dangerous and against common sense, but would violate the Hope Center’s sincerely held religious beliefs to admit biological men…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) A women’s shelter is suing the city of Anchorage, Alaska after its Equal Rights Commission began investigating the shelter for denying services to a transgender woman who was biologically male.
In January, the Hope Center referred an “inebriated and injured” transgender to a hospital after explaining that they could not offer him services because of his gender. The transgender, ambiguously identified in legal filings as “Jessie Doe” then issued complaints against the shelter, and the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission began investigating the religious group for violating a city ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on gender.
The Hope Center is fighting back though, accusing the city of misapplying the ordinance and violating its religious beliefs. Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom—best known for defending Masterpiece Cakeshop in its religious rights cases with the U.S. Supreme Court— the shelter is also challenging the constitutionality of the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, which expanded in 2015 to include sexual orientation. The ordinance, however, offers little protection to religious groups.
“The original ordinance that I proposed tried to balance the competing rights between transgender persons and the religious community,” Bill Evans, an attorney and former Anchorage assembly member who helped craft the ordinance, told KTUU News.
“It tried to establish which rights we’re going to recognize and where that line would be between each individuals’ rights. That was rejected pretty soundly by everybody on the left and on the right.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is fighting ADF and the shelter, arguing that the Hope Center “hurt” the transgender by denying him services.
“The ability to believe what you believe and to practice your religion is one of our core fundamental rights,” Casey Reynolds, communications director for ACLU Alaska, told KTUU. “But you have to draw the line at which this is harming other people and society, and that is really what this is about.”
The Hope Center said allowing a “biological male” to sleep next to and dress near other women is not only dangerous, but a violation of the shelter’s religious mission.
“It would not only be dangerous and against common sense, but would violate the Hope Center’s sincerely held religious beliefs to admit biological men into its shelter and allow them to sleep side by side and disrobe next to women, some of whom have been assaulted by men and fear for their safety,” ADF wrote in its federal complaint.