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Hope Center files suit over Anchorage anti-discrimination ordinance

Published: Jul. 4, 2021 at 9:48 AM AKDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2021 at 12:44 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -The Hope Center and the Municipality of Anchorage appear to be headed back to court for the second time in three years.

A federal lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Anchorage over an ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly back in May. The ordinance bans discrimination based on sex and gender identity.

Hope Center is a faith-based organization that operates a women’s only overnight shelter. It’s a place where those who are victims of sex trafficking, rape, or domestic violence can receive help.

Hope Center filed the lawsuit because it claims the ordinance violates its religious beliefs, and allowing transgender women to stay there poses a threat to the women it serves.

“Just the severe anxiety and trauma they experienced they have to take care of things where they feel vulnerable, like sleeping or undressing where they’re going to be around any biological male. This is why this is so important to the Hope Center,” said Kate Anderson, the lead counsel of Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom which represents Hope Center.

ADF also represented Hope Center against a 2018 suit filed by a transgender woman who was denied a request to stay at the shelter. The Municipality sided with the complaint filed with the Equal Rights Commission on grounds it violated anti-discrimination laws. The judge disagreed, as both sides reached a $100,001 settlement the following year.

Named in the latest suit are the Municipality of Anchorage, the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, and its Executive Director Mitzi Bolaños Anderson.

Alaska’s News Source was not able to get a hold of them for comment. Members of the Anchorage Assembly declined to pending the legal action.

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