ANCHORAGE, Alaska (BP) – An Alaska law firm representing a Christian women’s shelter is defending itself from a complaint brought by the same municipal agency suing the shelter. The case raises a question: Will lawyers come under fire for defending religious clients accused of discrimination?
The Anchorage Equal Rights Commission (AERC) previously sued the Downtown Hope Center, a women’s only homeless shelter, for not admitting a man who identified as transgender. Kevin G. Clarkson, an attorney in Anchorage, took the Hope Center’s case, arguing that the shelter denied Coyle services because he was under the influence of alcohol and showed up at the wrong time, not because of his transgender status.
After Clarkson publicly defended the shelter’s religious liberty, the AERC filed a complaint against his law firm on May 15, claiming his comments violated the city’s nondiscrimination law. First Liberty Institute filed a motion to dismiss the AERC’s complaint, arguing it violated Clarkson’s free speech.