(Christian Headlines) A Christian photographer filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn a Virginia law that would force him to take pictures at same-sex weddings under the threat of $50,000 to $100,000 fines.
At issue is the Virginia Values Act, which was signed by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam in April and prohibits “unlawful discrimination because of” sexual orientation in “places of public accommodation.” It defines a public accommodation as “all places or businesses offering or holding out to the general public goods, services, privileges, [or] advantages.”
Virginia law permits a civil penalty of up to $50,000 against first-time violators and up to $100,000 for each subsequent violation.
The law went into effect Wednesday.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed the suit against Virginia’s attorney general and another state official on behalf of Chris Herring, who owns Chris Herring Photography.
Herring is a Christian who derives his views on marriage from the Bible, the denominational teachings of the Southern Baptist Convention, and “other Christian leaders, pastors, and theologians that Chris admires,” the suit says. His formal policy, the suit says, is “to only offer wedding photography services celebrating weddings between one man and woman and to decline any photography requests celebrating any other weddings – including those for same-sex engagements or weddings.”
The suit says the new law violates Herring’s constitutionally protected religious and free speech rights as guaranteed in the First Amendment.
“Just as Virginia cannot force atheist newspaper editors to print op-eds promoting Christianity or LGBT artists to design church-flyers condemning same-sex marriage, Virginia cannot force Chris to convey messages he objects to,” the suit says. “The First Amendment ensures each of us can choose what we say and what we celebrate, even when the government dislikes it.”
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Editors Note. This article was written by Michael Foust and posted at Christian headlines. Title changed by Pulpit & Pen News.
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