A photographer's case for everyone's freedom

Monday, May 3, 2021
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

gavel with Bible 1A Virginia photographer is appealing a decision that he says would allow the state to censor and control his work.

Attorney Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Bob Updegrove, says the case is about artists having the freedom to choose the messages they promote.

"Bob has his own studio, and he wants to create photography that is consistent with his beliefs, but a new Virginia law says that if he wants to remain in the wedding industry, which is a big part of his business, he has to create photography celebrating same-sex weddings," Widmalm-Delphonse explains.

That, he says, is inconsistent with Upgdegrove's beliefs and infringes on his First Amendment rights.

This is a pre-enforcement challenge, one that a federal district court dismissed, prompting ADF to file the appeal at the Fourth Circuit.

"The court didn't actually reach the constitutional question," says Widmalm-Delphonse. "It just said that because this law is recent and there isn't a track record of how it's been enforced that he can't challenge the law. But we know that is not correct, and using these sorts of pre-enforcement challenges is the hallmark of civil rights litigation. Bob deserves to know right now whether he can operate his business consistent with his beliefs."

Widmalm-Delphonse

Widmalm-Delphonse expects the case to be in court sometime this summer or fall.

"It's important for the court to rule on this issue as soon as possible," he asserts. "This law says that Bob can't even put up a message on his website explaining his beliefs about marriage or that he only wants to create photography between one man and one woman."

Updegrove is also facing fines of up to $50,000 for a first-time violation and $100,000 for a second violation.

"This isn't just about our client's freedom, rather everyone's freedom" the ADF attorney concludes. "When the government can come in and tell you what to say, what to do, what to create, we don't live in a free America. [So] this is not just religious people; it is secular people."

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