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1st Amandment text on Document and gavel isolated on office desk. Hate group lawyer claims laws protecting same-sex couples violates 1st amendment.

A lawyer for the anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom claims that Virginia’s law protecting same-sex couples from discrimination “stifles artistic freedom” for photographers and other artists. Read on for the full story. 

Lawyer Claims Virginia Law Protecting Same-Sex Couples “Stifles Artistic Freedom”

(This is an op-ed piece),

In a recent opinion piece for the Roanoke Times, Kate Anderson wrote that the laws protecting same-sex couples from discrimination are stifling creative and artistic freedom of photographers and other artists. Her views aren’t particularly surprising. After all, Anderson is a senior counsel for the Center for Conscience Initiatives at Alliance Defending Freedom, a firm designated as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Anderson also represents Bob Updegrove, a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the state of Virginia. Updegrove’s suit claims that the Virginia Values Act violates his 1st Amendment rights to free speech. His is just one of several suits against the anti-discrimination law pending in Virginia.  

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The Virginia Values Act, which went into effect on July 1, bars businesses from discriminating against LGBTQ Virginians. That includes barring wedding vendors from refusing services to same-sex couples.

While defending the Act, Attorney General Herring said,

“The passage of the Virginia Values Act was a truly historic moment for the Commonwealth, when Virginia became the first southern state to pass such important protections. We are all Virginians and we all deserve to live in this Commonwealth without the fear of being discriminated against because of what we look like, who we love, where we come from, or how we worship. I will do everything in my power to defend the Virginia Values Act and make sure that it continues to protect Virginia’s LGBTQ community.”

“The Virginia Legislature and governor do not get to ignore the First Amendment in the name of achieving a radical agenda.” 

After a bit of a detour into a rant about transgender people, Anderson finally moved on to the crux of her complaint- the Virginia Values Act, saying,

“The Virginia Legislature and governor do not get to ignore the First Amendment in the name of achieving a radical agenda.” 

The rest of her opinion piece reads more like an an opening statement for Bob Updegrove’s case. Bob “happily serves people no matter who they are.” Bob would “happily use his talents to serve an LGBT businessowner promoting their coffee shop or salon.” However, Bob “can’t” use his talents to “express messages that he disagrees with for anyone.”

In other words, Bob should be free to discriminate against same-sex couples all he wants. After all, the 1st Amendment protects his freedom of speech, expression, and religion.

Law allows discrimination in free time, just not in business

Here’s the thing, though- Bob is free to discriminate against anyone that he wants during his free time. He can photograph or not photograph whatever and whoever he chooses. However, when it comes to his business, the law prevents Bob- and others like him- from refusing same-sex couples.

Anti-discrimination laws like this are not new. Over the decades, both states and the federal government have stepped in to stop businesses from discriminating against people for the color of their skin, gender or disabilities. In each case, people very much like Bob claimed that giving basic human rights to others violated their artistic expression or religious rights. For the most part, the courts struck down those claims.

Unfortunately, today we face a Trump-stacked Supreme Court loaded with justices that not only personally agree with the rhetoric put forth by hate groups like ADF but who actually have ties to said hate group. While the LGBTQ community saw some court victories this year, too often we’re seeing judges ruling in favor of allowing discrimination. So, there’s really no predicting what will happen when cases like Bob’s hit the Supreme Court.

Perhaps the question comes down to this: does the right to freedom of expression and religion supersede basic human rights? The courts already answered this question, though. There’s precedent for limiting 1st Amendment rights in favor of protecting the greater good. We can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, and we can’t sacrifice humans in the name of religion. So, it’s really a matter of the courts upholding those original answers.

What do you think of Anderson’s claim that Virginia’s laws preventing discrimination against same-sex couples stifles artistic freedom? Does the 1st Amendment supersede human rights? Share below!

Carolina B
Carolina B

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