Settlement kills state scheme to force moral ideology on photographer



A lawsuit against the state of Virginia over the decision by officials there to try to force a leftist social ideology on business owners has been dismissed after the state agreed it could not do what it wanted.

The fight was over the state’s demand on wedding photographer Bob Updegrove. Officials there insisted that if he provided services for weddings between a man and a woman he also had to perform services for same-sex duos.

But, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented him, that law violated foundational rights set forth in the Constitution, including the First Amendment’s Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses.

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The settlement follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 303 Creative v. Elenis, one of multiple cases out of the state of Colorado in which authorities there demanded business operators follow the state’s adopted leftist social ideologies.

The Supreme Court said in the Colorado case that the government cannot force people to say things they don’t believe.

In that case the owner of a website company refused to create websites celebrating those same-sex ceremonies.

After that ruling a settlement soon came in the case involving Updegrove, the ADF explained, and he now is free to create wedding photography consistent with his beliefs.

Should wedding photographers be forced to do same-sex weddings?

1% (5 Votes)

99% (620 Votes)

#firefly-poll-container #firefly-poll-results-yes::before { content: “Yes: “; } #firefly-poll-container #firefly-poll-results-no::before { content: “No: “; }

“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,” explained Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse, a lawyer for the ADF.

“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.”

Updegrove sued in 2020, challenging a new state law at that time that “required him to offer and create photography celebrating same-sex weddings because he offered to create photography celebrating opposite-sex weddings,” the lawyers reported.

“The law also prevented Updegrove from publicly explaining on his studio’s own website the religious reasons why he only celebrates wedding ceremonies between a man and a woman.”

Authorities in Virginia claimed such messages were “discrimination” and they threatened fines of up to $50,000, then $100,000, for violating their adopted social beliefs.

“As part of the settlement, Virginia officials acknowledged that the Constitution protects Updegrove’s right to create wedding photography consistent with his beliefs, and that he is free to communicate his business policy regarding his religious beliefs on marriage,” the ADF said.

Because of the settlement, the case was dismissed.

The settlement provides that the state cannot enforce its laws that would demand the photographer “offer or provide photography celebrating same-sex weddings” and that the state cannot prevent him from “asking prospective clients whether they seek photography services celebrating same-sex weddings…”

The agreement also allows the photographer to post his statements on its website.

And it specifically allows for “another action” should the state renege on its promise and someone should try in the future “to enforce the challenged provisions of those laws against plaintiffs.”

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