A Virginia photographer who asserted his free-speech rights will be allowed to refused to take photos of same-sex weddings and say so on his website, in a settlement of a federal lawsuit that challenged Virginia’s ban on discrimination against gay and transgender people, the Washington Post reports. The state will not require Bob Updegrove “to offer or provide photography celebrating same-sex weddings” or prevent him from expressing that position in promotional materials.
The settlement specifically cited the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the case of Colorado web design company 303 Creative, in which the court ruled that the First Amendment allows some businesses to refuse to work for same-sex couples. In both Updegrove’s and the 303 Creative case, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian conservative nonprofit, argued that the work involved was not just a service offered to the public but personal expression. The decision is a blow to the Virginia Values Act, a landmark 2020 law that made Virginia the first state in the South to enact wide-ranging protections for LGBTQ people.