A Christian conservative legal group has filed lawsuits on behalf of nonprofit ministries and a photographer, saying a new Virginia law offering LGBTQ protections forces them to “abandon” their beliefs.
The Virginia Values Act offers sweeping protections to the state’s LGBTQ community in areas including housing, employment, public spaces and credit applications. It was signed into law in April.
But a group caled the Alliance Defending Freedom says the law has forced its clients “to abandon their core convictions in hiring and other polices or face fines up to $100,000 for each violation.”
“Our clients offer spiritual guidance, education, pregnancy support, and athletic opportunities to their communities because of the religious beliefs that motivate them,” ADF senior counsel Denise Harle said in a statement.
In a case filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Loudoun County photographer Bob Updegrove asserts that the law could force him to photograph a same-sex wedding despite his personal opposition to same-sex marriage.
“The government cannot demand that artists create content that violates their deepest convictions,” Jonathan Scruggs, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious-liberty group representing plaintiffs in both cases, said in a statement.
State Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who sponsored the Virginia Values Act and was the state’s first openly gay legislator, noted that the law also bans discrimination on the basis of race, religion, disability and status as a veteran.
“People have a right to be free from discrimination,” he said. “We’re moving into a Virginia that can accept that. And there are a few people who want to hold onto the past, unfortunately.”
The other suit, filed Monday in Loudoun