(ReclaimingAmerica.net) – In a significant legal victory for America’s Christians, a Christian wedding photographer in Virginia who refused to use his firm for the “celebration” of gay marriage has now won a lawsuit against the state.
Virginia authorities issued a press release on Monday, announcing they decided to settle the legal dispute with the photographer, Bob Updegrove, who objected to using his services to promote same-sex marriage.
In September 2020, Updegrove filed a lawsuit against Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares and Christine Lambrou Johnson of the state’s Office of Civil Rights, challenging a state law he believed compelled him to endorse same-sex marriages through his photography business, per the court filings.
Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Updegrove settled with the state following the Supreme Court’s ruling in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, The Daily Caller reports.
The settlement established that the government cannot mandate a business owner to engage in speech contradicting their beliefs.
“Free speech is for everyone. As the Supreme Court recently affirmed in 303 Creative, the government can’t force Americans to say things they don’t believe,” Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse, counsel for ADF, declared.
“This victory for Bob underscores how the 303 Creative decision will protect countless Americans from government censorship and coercion. The U.S. Constitution protects his freedom to express his views as he continues to serve clients of all backgrounds and beliefs,” the lawyer added.
The Caller notes that the Virginia Values Act, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation by businesses, was at the heart of Updegrove’s legal battle.
He contended that the legislation effectively sought to eliminate his belief that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman.
He also asserted that the law infringed on his First Amendment rights, as it would prevent him from publicly expressing his views on his website or business social media platforms.
A district court initially found in March 2021 that there was not a strong enough basis to proceed with the case.
However, a Supreme Court decision in June 2023 sided with a Christian web designer, ruling that Colorado could not compel her to create websites that celebrated same-sex marriage, thus preserving her right to free speech.
Consequently, Virginia chose to settle to “avoid further costs and expenses of litigation,” as stated in the legal documents.