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(LifeSiteNews) — A Christian wedding photographer will not be forced to take photos at homosexual “wedding” ceremonies, according to a new settlement in a federal lawsuit.

Photographer Bob Updegrove and Virginia officials settled the lawsuit in light of 303 Creative v. Elenis, the Supreme Court ruling from June that held artists, in that case a website designer, cannot be forced to promote homosexual “weddings.”

The case was pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The federal court was waiting on a decision in the 303 challenge case before ruling on an appeal. A district court had ruled Updegrove did not have standing to the law prior to its enforcement against him.

Updegrove originally challenged the Virginia Values Act in 2020. It was signed by liberal Virginia Governor Ralph Northam that same year and prohibited “any type of discrimination aimed at LGBT persons in housing, public and private employment, public accommodations, and access to credit.” Updegrove and other Christian creative professionals faced $50,000 fines for initial violations of the law and $100,000 penalties for subsequent violations. They also could have been forced to violate their conscience and provide the service.

READ: Churches, photographer launch lawsuit against Virginia pro-LGBT ‘nondiscrimination’ bill

“As part of the settlement, Virginia officials agreed that Bob Updegrove is free to create wedding photography consistent with his beliefs, as protected by the First Amendment,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) wrote on Monday. The Christian legal group represented Updegrove.

It ends a three-year battle after ADF first argued that the commonwealth cannot decree what views are “politically correct.”

“Virginia does not get to decree that citizens can only profess views the state deems politically correct,” Updegrove’s attorneys wrote in the original complaint. “Virginia cannot force Bob to convey messages against his faith without violating his First Amendment right to free speech and free exercise.”

Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares signed off on the settlement. The agreement stipulates the state will not “Force Plaintiffs to offer or provide photography celebrating same-sex weddings,” “Prevent Plaintiffs from asking prospective clients whether they seek photography services celebrating same-sex weddings or engagements,” “Prevent Plaintiffs from adopting or distributing their desired editorial policy,” nor prevent him from stating his reasons why he will not photograph non-heterosexual weddings.

ADF thanked Miyares for working to settle the lawsuit.

“Free speech is for everyone. As the Supreme Court recently affirmed in 303 Creative, the government can’t force Americans to say things they don’t believe,” ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse stated in a news release. “This victory for Bob underscores how the 303 Creative decision will protect countless Americans from government censorship and coercion. The U.S. Constitution protects his freedom to express his views as he continues to serve clients of all backgrounds and beliefs.”

“We commend Attorney General Miyares and his office for agreeing that state officials cannot punish Bob for exercising his First Amendment rights,” Widmalm-Delphonse stated.

The ruling is the latest victory to come as a result of the 303 Creative ruling. Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch ruled the “First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees.” Colorado has a similar “non-discrimination” law that has been used to target Christians, including baker Jack Phillips.

As a result of the 303 Creative ruling, Phillips has asked the Colorado Supreme Court to reverse a penalty sanctioned against him for declining to make cakes that celebrated a “gender transition,” as previously reported by LifeSiteNews.

A state appeals court ruled in January of this year that “the act of baking a pink cake with blue frosting does not constitute protected speech under the First Amendment,” and that the “prohibition against discrimination based on a person’s transgender status does not violate a proprietor’s right to freely exercise or express their religion.”

That ruling is now in question due to the Supreme Court decision this summer.

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