The Anchorage Assembly’s 8-2 vote this week to change local law to force women’s shelters to accept men who say they are women makes us wonder: What is wrong with the our Assembly members?
The vote – Assemblywomen Jamie Allard and Crystal Kennedy were the only “no” votes – would revise Anchorage Municipal Code Title 5, the Equal Rights section.
The move appears aimed at the Downtown Hope Center, a Christian shelter, which allows women, but bars biological males, even if they identify as women.
The city lost its last kerfuffle with the Hope Center, which has provided safe space for battered and vulnerable homeless women for more than 30 years.
In a 2018 letter to the Anchorage Daily News, Kate Anderson, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based legal ministry, which represented Downtown Hope Center, laid out the facts.
A man, Jessie Doe, claiming to identify as a woman, arrived at the center agitated, aggressive, and injured. Hope Center Executive Director Sherrie Laurie encouraged Doe to go to the hospital, even paying for the taxi to the emergency room, Anderson wrote.
Doe complained to the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, claiming sex and gender identity discrimination.
“Laurie later learned that, before coming to the Hope Center, the police had picked Doe up from another homeless shelter where Doe had started a fight,” Anderson wrote. “The other shelter had even banned Doe from returning until July 4.”
After months of investigation, the commission pressured the Hope Center to change its policies, despite its finding no evidence of past discrimination – and despite the Anchorage ordinance in question specifically exempting homeless shelters.
By day, the Hope Center provides food, shower, and laundry services, and also job skills training to any man or woman in need, no matter their status, no matter their gender identity. It serves 450-600 cups of soup daily and 142,000 meals annually, Anderson says.
At night, the Hope Center becomes a women’s-only shelter to fill a deep need in the community to help homeless women who have been beaten, raped, trafficked and emotionally and physically abused, Anderson says.
The center went to federal court in September 2018 to block enforcement of Anchorage’s anti-discrimination laws against the center. The center argued it was exempt from the city’s anti-discrimination laws.
On Aug. 9, 2019, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to stop the municipality from enforcing its non-discrimination code.
The next month, Anchorage dropped its complaint against the center, conceding the shelter is not, under the law, operating a public accommodation. The Equal Rights Commission settled, awarding the Downtown Hope Center $100,000 in legal fees and $1 in damages.
It is nothing short of incredible that eight members of the Anchorage Assembly would force a shelter for battered, abused, vulnerable homeless women – women abused by men – to house men who say they are women at night in the same facility with those women. What kind of a mind believes that is OK?
You simply have to ask: What is wrong with these people?