Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against CA Shelters March 18, 2005

NOMAS joined an amicus brief with California Women’s Law Center in a case, in which a man who claimed to be a domestic violence victim brought an unsuccessful equal protection challenge to state funding for Los Angeles area women-only domestic violence shelters.

Serving as a tester for the National Coalition of Free Men, Blumhorst called ten agencies to request shelter because, he said, he was experiencing domestic violence. Some of the shelters Blumhorst called tried to direct him to a Lancaster program that serves men.

Plaintiff Eldon Blumhorst brought this action against ten Los Angeles area battered women’s shelters challenging public funding for battered women’s shelters on an equal protection basis. He argued that women-only shelters violate California’s civil rights law, which prevents organizations receiving state funding from engaging in sex discrimination, and claimed that the shelters should not be entitled to an exception in the civil rights statute for lawful programs that benefit women and minorities.

Blumhorst’s suit sought to open all state-funded domestic violence shelters to men. The shelters argued that women-only shelters are lawful, practical and effective means of assisting abused women and children, and that they do not violate men’s equal protection rights.

NOMAS joined an amicus curiae brief prepared by the California Women’s Law Center, Queens’ Bench Bar Association of the San Francisco Bay Area, California Alliance Against Domestic Violence and several other California organizations in support of the shelters that addresses why it is important for women’s physical and psychological well-being that they have available domestic violence shelters that do not permit adult men. In February 2005, the California Court of Appeal dismissed the case on the ground that, while Blumhorst was apparently a victim of domestic violence in the past, he did not have legal standing to bring his current case against the shelters because when he called them, he was not an actual victim of violence seeking services. His appeal was subsequently denied.