Christian photographer brings pre-emptive suit against Va. pro-gay law

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Chris Herring claims the state's new antidiscrimination law would force him to go against his Christian beliefs.

A photographer in Norfolk, Va., is fighting back against a new state law that would force him to cater to same-sex weddings and thus violate his own religious beliefs.

Chris Herring has filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against the state’s new homosexual and transgender rights law, saying it would force him to go against his Christian beliefs by taking pictures of same-sex “weddings.”

The misleadingly named Virginia Values Act, which forces people to support homosexuals seeking housing, public and private employment, public accommodations, and access to credit, went into effect on July 1. Herring’s business would be considered a public accommodation.

Herring filed suit in federal court in Virginia one day before the law took effect, reported the Virginian-Pilot. He is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has served numerous clients fighting for the right not to condone homosexuality, including a Colorado baker who won a U.S. Supreme Court victory in 2018.

Herring “faces an impossible choice: violate the law and risk bankruptcy, promote views against his faith, or close down,” the suit states. “And this was exactly what Virginia officials wanted for those who hold Chris’ religious beliefs about marriage. Legislators who passed Virginia’s law called views like Chris’ ‘bigotry’ and sought to punish them with ‘unlimited punitive damages’ to remove them from the public square.”

He takes LGBTQ+ clients for his brand and adventure shoots but says photographing same-sex weddings would run counter to his beliefs and violate his First Amendment rights, ADF lawyer Kate Anderson told The Virginian-Pilot.

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