Virginia photographer takes legal action to challenge state law on gay marriage photos


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Photographer and blogger Chris Herring has filed a lawsuit against new Virginia law that “requires” photographers to promote same-sex marriages.

Governor Northam signed on Virginia Securities Act which protects LGBTQ Virginians from unfair treatment and harassment in housing practices, employment, public housing and financial agreements, which go into effect Wednesday.

According to Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys – who represent Herring – the law threatens fines of up to $ 50,000, then $ 100,000 per additional violation for any discriminatory act “on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity ”.

This prevents Herring from posting his religious reasons for why he only covers marriages between a man and a woman on the studio’s website.

“Artists should not be censored, fined or forced to quit simply because they disagree with preferred government views,” said Jonathan Scruggs, senior adviser of ADF, director of the ADF Center for Conscience Initiatives.

“Due to Virginia’s new law, Chris [Herring] faces an impossible choice: break the law and risk bankruptcy, promote opinions contrary to their faith, or close their doors. No matter how we think about marriage, we all lose out when bureaucrats can force citizens to participate in religious ceremonies they oppose, express messages they disagree with, and remain silent. on the beliefs they hold dear.

Lawyers for the Defending Freedom Alliance have said the lawsuit is a way for Herring, as well as citizens, to challenge a law before it is enforced against them and they are asking the court to suspend enforcement of the law. law against Herring and his company while his lawsuit continues.

The filed complaint deals in detail with how state law violates First Amendment rights.

“More specifically, the lawsuit challenges Va. Code § 2.2-3904 (B), which requires Herring to participate in and create photographs and blogs promoting same-sex marriage ceremonies, all because he does the same to perform marriages between a male and female, ”Alliance Defending Freedom officials said.

The complaint also relates to the number of photographers in Virginia who photograph same-sex marriages – Herring wants the same artistic freedoms.

“It’s not the state’s job to tell me what to film or post on my website. My religious beliefs influence all aspects of my life, including the stories I tell through my photography. If you’re looking for someone to photograph a red light district or promote drug tourism, I’m not your guy, ”Herring said.

“Now Virginia is trying to intimidate creative professionals like me into changing some of my other religious beliefs. I enjoy working and serving all clients, but I cannot and will not let the state force me to express messages that contradict my beliefs.

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