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Someone Tell Us How This Is Right?

The Downtown Hope Center in Anchorage, Alaska, does what can only be considered yeoman’s work in helping people in need. In over 30 years, the Center has grown to:

Provide Women’s Shelter, Culinary & Bakery Job Skills Training, Daily Meals, Laundry, and Clothing Handout
Home of Feed Me Hope Bakery and Culinary School
Serving neighbors in need for over 30 years
Over 160 individuals volunteer weekly
450-600 cups of soup served daily
142,000 meals prepared annually
Majority of funding from individual donations

The center is a religious based endeavor. While the Center is funded mostly by individual donations, it receives no funds from any state or federal agency. The group provides services that help people get back on their feet. One of the things the Center provides is shelter for women who are victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and sex trafficking.

In January 2018, the Hope Center refused to allow a person access to the Women’s Shelter. The person was injured and inebriated. The shelter provided cab fair to the local hospital for the individual as the Center is not a medical facility and does not accept inebriated people.

As it so happens, the person they turned away was “transgendered.”

On January 26, 2018, Anchorage police officers dropped “Jessie Doe” off at Hope Center. Doe smelled strongly of alcohol, acted agitated and aggressive, and had an open wound above the eye. Sherrie Laurie, Hope Center’s Executive Director, was called to assess the situation.

Because Hope Center is a sober and clean shelter, Laurie explained that Doe could not stay because Hope Center did not accept individuals who were inebriated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Laurie then recommended that Doe go to the hospital to receive medical care. After much resistance, Doe agreed, and Laurie paid for a cab to take Doe to the emergency room. Brother Francis [Shelter] eventually told Laurie that Doe had started a fight at Brother Francis [Shelter], the police had been called, and Doe had been temporarily banned from Brother Francis [Shelter]property.

The next day, Doe tried to be admitted at Hope Center again. But Doe was not admitted because Doe had not stayed the previous evening, which is required by shelter policy, and because Doe sought entry at a time when the shelter was not accepting new guests. Doe left Hope Center that day, but then filed a complaint with the Commission claiming sex and gender identity discrimination. (emphasis ours)

You read that right. A biological, drunk, belligerent and injured man filed a complaint against the Downtown Hope Center because they didn’t want him to be housed with women who were abused by men (who we can presume were sometimes drunk.)

The Anchorage Equal Rights Commission took up the complaint and made what attorneys for the Hope Center say are overly broad demands for documents. While the Center provided the documents, that was the first indication that something more was afoot.

One of the upcoming issues for Alaska was what was called “Proposition 1.” Proposition 1 sought to restrict people to use bathrooms and public facilities that corresponded with the biological gender. (The measure was defeated.) Clearly the Hope Center case would bring to light a very troubling aspect of the law if Proposition 1 failed to pass. It seems reasonable to say that the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission wanted nothing that could illustrate the problems with non-restrictive accommodations.

As the media got hold of this Hope Center story, it sought comments from the Center and it’s lawyer. The lawyer answered questions but never supplied any written statements. The fact that he did not is important because Anchorage’s code provides that when there is a complaint being investigated by the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, the parties cannot make written statements about the complaint to outside parties. The key word there is “written,” which seemed to have skipped over the heads of the people at that Commission who filed another complaint against the Downtown Hope Center for making verbal statements. As that complaint was also filed against the attorney for the Center, he was forced to back away and the Center was left to find outside counsel.

Enter the Alliance Defending Freedom. (They have a webpage set up for the case which can be found here.)

The ADF has filed a brief seeking to end this charade which is simply a government agency demanding that a religious group act contrary to their religious beliefs. In addition, the brief argues that the Commission is acting outside of the city, state and Federal law.

For example, the law requires that complaints be resolved by the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission with 240 days. We are well past that deadline (over 270 days) and still the Commission is pursuing the complaint. In addition, the Anchorage City Ordinance specifically exempted homeless shelters from being required to meet “public accommodations” under an amended “gender identity” clause.

Want more evidence of shenanigans? The Commission and the ADF met to discuss the first complaint in August. The ADF brought along someone to transcribe the meeting. The Commission balked and would not allow the meeting to be transcribed. There is something inherently wrong when a government agency is meeting with individuals and will not allow the contents of that meeting to be transcribed. It makes one question “what is the Commission hiding?”

Basically the attacks on the Downtown Hope Center is one where the Commission wants to tell Center that they have to bow down to the will of the commission. It doesn’t matter to the Commission that they aren’t following their own rules and laws. It doesn’t matter that they sought to illegally suppress the speech of a lawyer and people at the shelter. It doesn’t matter that it makes no sense to put an drunk, aggressive, injured man into the same sleeping area with women who have been abused by men and are seeking refuge from that abuse. It doesn’t matter to the Commission that the actions of the Center are religion based and in fact, it might be speculated that the religious angle is why the Commission is going after the Center so hard.

The Alliance Defending Freedom’s brief in this matter can be found here.

It is well worth the read to see what lengths the Commission is going to project a social agenda rather than actually protect women and follow the law.

After all, laws are for other people, not government agencies.



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