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"Photographer who objects to taking pictures of same-sex ‘weddings’ sues state"
"Wedding photographer Chris Herring is suing the state of Virginia over the so-called 'Virginia Values Act,' which earlier this year added sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, argued that Herring’s refusal to take pictures of homosexual 'weddings' has nothing to do with the homosexual persons themselves, but with the content of those pictures. He 'cannot create some content for anyone no matter who they are — whether that be content promoting pollution, pornography, or certain views about marriage.' However, the lawsuit continued, '(i)t’s this last editorial judgment … that Virginia finds objectionable — threatening to fine Chris into bankruptcy for not creating photographs and blog posts he objects to.' The state of Virginia interprets the 'Virginia Values Act' to mean Herring would be forced 'to do more than serve LGBT clients (which Chris already does). Virginia instead requires Chris to promote content he disagrees with — to create and convey photographs and blogs celebrating same-sex weddings because he does so for weddings between a man and a woman.' 'The law even makes it illegal for Chris to hold a policy of photographing and blogging about weddings only between a man and woman or to post internet statements explaining his religious reasons for only creating this wedding content,' the complaint added. Appealing to the First Amendment, the lawsuit stated, '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.'... Jonathan Scruggs, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal organization representing Herring in court, said, 'Artists shouldn’t be censored, fined, or forced out of business simply for disagreeing with the government’s preferred views.'... Of all days, Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam had signed the 'Virginia Values Act' on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday... Previously, Gov. Northam had signed a bill into law that prevents parents from seeking counseling for their children who are experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion. The law prohibits what it calls 'conversion therapy' of people under 18 years of age."
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