NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY ) — A Virginia photographer has voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s newly enacted state law that “forces” photographers to promote same-sex weddings.
Photographer and blogger Chris Herring initially filed the lawsuit late June challenging Gov. Ralph Northam’s Virginia Values Act which protects LGBTQ Virginians against unfair treatment and harassment in housing practices, employment, public accommodations, and financial agreements, which went into effect early July.
The act threatens fines of up to $50,000 and then $100,000 per additional violation for any discriminatory acts “on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Herring said this prevented him from posting his religious reasons explaining why he only covers weddings between a man and a woman to the studio’s website.
The complaint filed addresses in detail how the state law violates the First Amendment rights.
“Specifically, the lawsuit challenges Va. Code § 2.2-3904(B), which forces Herring to participate in and to create photographs and blogs promoting same-sex wedding ceremonies—all because he does the same to celebrate weddings between a man and a woman,” said officials with Alliance Defending Freedom.
The complaint also addresses the number of photographers in Virginia who photograph same-sex weddings — Herring wants the same artistic freedoms.
“It isn’t the state’s job to tell me what I must capture on film or publish on my website. My religious beliefs influence every aspect of my life, including the stories I tell through my photography. If you’re looking for someone to photograph a red-light district or promote drug tourism, I’m not your guy,” said Herring.
After more than 4 months, Herring voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.