A Christian wedding photographer has launched legal action against a new Virginia law which would force him to promote same-sex weddings.
Under the Virginia Values Act, Chris Herring would be forced to photograph and blog about same-sex weddings because he currently does so for marriages between a man and a woman.
If he refuses to promote same-sex weddings, he could be initially fined up to $50,000 and ordered to create photographs and blogs against his conscience, if he wants to stay in business.
The law also prevents him from publicly stating his Christian basis for only celebrating weddings between one man and one woman, because the legislation claims it to be “discriminatory” on the basis of sexual orientation.
Herring said: “My religious beliefs influence every aspect of my life, including the stories I tell through my photography.”
My religious beliefs influence every aspect of my life
He added: “I happily work with and serve all customers, but I can’t and won’t let the state force me to express messages that contradict my beliefs.”
Jonathan Scruggs of religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is bringing Herring’s case, said: “No matter one’s views on marriage, we all lose when bureaucrats can force citizens to participate in religious ceremonies they oppose, speak messages they disagree with, and stay silent about beliefs they hold dear.”
Last year, two Christians who faced being fined if they declined to create same-sex wedding invitations won their legal case.
I happily work with and serve all customers, but I can’t and won’t let the state force me to express messages that contradict my beliefs.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski run Brush & Nib Studio, a stationery business that makes invitations for weddings and other events.
They challenged a Phoenix non-discrimination law and the Arizona Supreme Court later ruled in their favour, saying that freedom of speech is not limited to the home or church.