Thanks to a federal court order, the Anchorage Assembly cannot require a faith-based women’s shelter to admit biological males who claim to be female. The order upholds the shelter’s right to prevent men from sleeping in close quarters with women who have suffered physical and sexual abuse.

The faith-based Downtown Hope Center has served homeless women in Anchorage for decades.

The U.S. District Court for Alaska ruled on Dec. 20 that Downtown Hope Center is not a “public accommodation” and therefore is not subject to a recent city ordinance aimed at threatening the shelter with fines and penalties for following its religious beliefs and serving biological women in desperate need.

“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 Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Kate Anderson, who helped represent the shelter.

Alliance Defending Freedom is a national non-profit that defends religious freedom, free speech, parental rights and the sanctity of life. They have affiliate lawyers in all 50 states, including Alaska. The organization stepped in to help the Downtown Hope Center, which has provided services to Anchorage’s homeless population for over three decades. Funded primarily by individual donors and churches, the Christian mission gives its guests valuable experiences and marketable job skills. It also runs a bakery, a cold weather shelter that houses 50 women a night, a soup kitchen, a culinary school and a vocational training programs for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals.

“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,” ADF Senior Counsel Kate Anderson said. “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.”

Downtown Hope Center initially filed a federal lawsuit against the city in 2018 after the shelter referred an inebriated and injured biological male to a hospital to receive care. The shelter even paid for his taxi.

The man, who claimed to be a woman, showed up at the shelter wearing a pink women’s night gown. He later filed a complaint with the city’s Equal Rights Commission, claiming that the women’s shelter refused to let him spend the night. The city, then under Mayor Ethan Berkowitz leadership, opted to pursue the complaint against the Hope Center. This spurred the Hope Center lawsuit. The city ultimately dropped its complaint and was forced to pay the shelter $100,000 for legal fees.

After that initial loss in federal court, the Anchorage Assembly amended the city ordinance this past summer in an attempt to find new ways to force the Hope Center into letting gender confused males sleep next to women who have been abused. That attempt was struck down by the recent court ruling.

“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. “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.”

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Court says Anchorage women’s shelter can bar gender confused males

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Ed Martin Jr says:

    Blest be the Lord ! Men are Men & Woman are Woman both deserve protection , sanctuary is no place for fear!

    • Sharon Alice Turner says:

      Confused Demanding to insinuate oneself in to my life or anyone else who also has their own CIVIL rights? There is a famous clinic in Denver, Colorado whose expert surgical team can end your confusion with a ‘reassignment’. Then when the parts leading to said confusion are removed, and the others inverted to new purpose.. Can you claim your (*in this instance) femaleness. Otherwise I care not a whit what you care to be addressed as.. you are not allowed in shelters where abused and tortured women are trying to find healing/ haven. My PTSD create in me a visceral reaction. Period!

  • Jane Alaska says:

    Great news!!!

  • Somebody says:

    How do they determine who is or is not ‘biologically female’? What if a trans woman has legal documents that refer to her as such? What if a cis (non trans) woman happens to look ‘too masculine’? I just want to know how this will be enforced.

    • John J Otness says:

      pull down your pants,,, thats how,,, really. simple and never confusing.

      • Steve P Peterson says:

        John, I agree with you, but for the gender confused, the plumbing is irrelevant, and they have a large segment of the population agreeing with them for fear they’ll be called bigots. It’s reached the point where we have biological male athletes who think they can pass as women (literally) beating actual women athletes in their events. That’s how twisted our society has become.

      • Somebody says:

        So they have to pull down the pants of every homeless woman that enters the building? I don’t think that’s legal. Or ethical.

    • Richard Corbeil says:

      It’s not flawless, but it’s a move in the right direction. 99.999% of people’s gender can be identified with a simple look at the face. Some may slip through the cracks, but if that’s the best we can do then so be it.

  • John J Otness says:

    Amen stop the madness… TY for this sane ruling .

  • Richard Corbeil says:

    No, it’s not more complex and interesting than people seem to want it to be! It is irrelevant who is/has been thinking wrong.

  • Murry says:

    I’m quite sure Mr. Corbeil’s sleep is undisturbed. He is simply stating the obvious and what he says is correct.

  • Jesse says:

    Dose this group shamlessly attempt to push an anti-LGBQ narrative all the time?

    • Steve P Peterson says:

      Yup, most of us here believe in two genders- male and female, and in normal, not aberrant sexuality. This is a conservative site.

  • Vonda Sanders says:

    This should not be a discussion. Women go there because they were abused and having a man there even if your trans or whatever will only abuse them more and they wont be able to get the help they need.

  • LGB says:

    This ruling is great news……Protect women and children even if it hurts liberals feelings, I’d call that acceptable collateral damage.

  • Matthew Sampson says:

    Another win for women. Now if only the court would rule against boys stealing medals from girls and also against boys entering girls locker rooms!