A coalition of organizations filed a lawsuit against the state of Virginia over a law that bars employers, including religious employers, from making hiring decisions on the basis of “gender identity” and sexual orientation.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the group’s legal counsel, reported that the same law requires employers to cover “sex reassignment and ‘gender affirming’ surgeries that run contrary to their beliefs.” And if a church wanted to hold women-only Christian discipleship or other kinds of sex-specific classes, the church would be in violation of the law.
Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Values Act into law last year.
Calvary Road Baptist Church, Community Fellowship Church, Community Christian Academy, and Care Net (a pregnancy center) filed a lawsuit last week in federal court.
ADF stated in the complaint (PDF) that the law “forces people of faith to adopt a particular political ideology under threat of punishment.” Despite the law’s anti-discriminatory language, it infringes on religious organizations’ First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights.
ADF also filed a lawsuit on behalf of a wedding and special-events photographer who is also challenging the law. The law would force him to provide services for homosexual “weddings” or, like the coalition members, face fines. From ADF:
The law also forbids photographer Bob Updegrove from publicly explaining on his studio’s own website the religious reasons why he only celebrates wedding ceremonies between one man and one woman. Virginia considers such communications “discriminatory” on the basis of sexual orientation. The new law threatens initial fines of up to $50,000 and then $100,000 per additional violation, along with court orders that could force Updegrove to photograph events against his conscience if he wants to stay in business.
“Every American, including artists, should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of unjust punishment,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs, director of the ADF Center for Conscience Initiatives. “Because of Virginia’s new law, photographers like Bob face an impossible choice: violate the law and risk bankruptcy, promote views against their faith, or close down. The government cannot demand that artists create content that violates their deepest convictions.”
Virginia, a once-red state, is an example of what leftists do when they control a state’s governorship and the legislature. The lawmakers who drafted and voted for the so-called Virginia Values Act do not value the constitutional rights of Christians or anyone else who believes marriage is the union between one man and one woman.