'I Won't Let the State Force Me to Express Messages That Contradict My Beliefs'


PREMO Member
Chris Herring, owner of Chris Herring Photography, filed the pre-enforcement lawsuit on Tuesday before the law came into effect on Wednesday. The lawsuit claims the Virginia Values Act — which Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed on the Saturday before Easter during a pandemic — violates Chris Herring’s rights to free speech, free association, freedom of the press, religious liberty, and the Constitution’s ban on a government establishment of religion.


“The punitive damages are designed to be especially severe,” Chris Herring’s lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit quotes Delegate Marcus Simon (D-53), who said, “I’ve actually looked at the [uncapped punitive damages in Virginia’s law] language … and I think it’s actually doing exactly what we intended for it to do. If you don’t want to be subject to unlimited punitive damages, don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. … I mean, this wasn’t meant to be a non-punitive bill.”

“As Delegate Simon indicated, the Act is intended to force Chris and people with beliefs like him to choose between either being punished for his religious convictions and risking bankruptcy or abandoning their business altogether,” the lawsuit alleges.