Blumhorst v. Jewish Family Services

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  • Violence Against Women and Girls
  • Joined Amicus Brief
2005

Addressed whether state-supported shelters for domestic violence that do not admit adult men violate equal protection or other rights of men.

Summary of the Case

Plaintiff Eldon Blumhorst, a man who claimed to be a domestic violence victim, brought this action against ten Los Angeles area battered women-only 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.

Our Role in the Case

Legal Momentum joined an amicus curiae brief prepared by the 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. The brief 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.

Decision

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 a current victim of violence seeking services. His appeal was subsequently denied.