A Christian photographer is said to be in a legal battle against a legislation that forces him to cover events contrary to his beliefs.
The Christian Post reported that Robert Updegrove has filed an appeal at the district court against Virginia for the Virginia Values Act that was implemented on July 2020 in part of anti-discrimination rules that include gender identity and sexual orientation. Updegrove was previously denied by the district court of his complaint on the law that forces him to service weddings of the same sex, which is against his religious beliefs.
The Virginia Values Act has been in conflict with business owners' religious liberty in so far as their belief in traditional marriage. The appeal, the Christian Post highlighted, was filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom in behalf of Updegrove on Wednesday.
Updegrove, who runs Bob Updegrove Photography, sought to conduct his photography business as he has accustomed to for wedding ceremonies that celebrate "the union of one man and one woman" and engagement sessions. He also aspires to continue in evaluating "every photography request he receives to determine whether he can fulfill that request consistent with his artistic judgment and religious beliefs."
According to the appeal that is filed against Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Virginia Division of Human Rights and Fair Housing Director R. Thomas Payne II, Updegrove's appeal was filed in the Fourth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals in line with the denial of his motion for preliminary injunction last March 30, 2021.
"The law violates foundational rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment's Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses," the ADF said in its website.
ADF added that it will "argue" with the district court since they "should not have dismissed the suit" because of the "real violations" against Updegrove's basic rights set in the US Constitution that include the "First Amendment's Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses."
"Artists should be free to choose the messages they promote. But because of the state's interpretation of its law, photographers like Bob face an impossible choice: violate the law and risk bankruptcy, promote views against their faith, or close down," ADF Center for Conscience Initiatives Director Jonathan Scruggs
"Bob and other artists deserve to have clarity on how this law affects their business. Free speech is too important, and the First Amendment protects everyone, no matter what side of an issue a person lands on," Scruggs pointed out.
ADF revealed that the Virginia Values Act actually forbids Updegrove to explain in his own website "the religious reasons" for choosing to service "wedding ceremonies between one man and one woman". A fine of up to $50,000 is imposed on anyone who violates the state law on top of a $100,000 fine for every additional violation and court orders that will force photographers like Updegrove to act against their conscience if they want to "stay in business."
Updegrove's complaint was dismissed by the district court because "the photographer lacked standing" since the Virginia Values act "has never been enforced against" him "or any other person."
U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton, as cited by the Christian Post, said there was "no complaint" filed ever since the "statute became effective". He stressed that "no case or controversy exists" since "no person, government or otherwise, has ever sought to enforce" the statute.