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Legal Alert: Lawsuit Filed Challenging the Virginia Values Act

Simms Showers attorneys H. Robert Showers and William R. Thetford as local counsel, allied with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), filed a suit challenging the controversial Virginia Values Act in Virginia courts last week.

As we wrote previously, Virginia law underwent an unprecedented shift during this year’s legislative session. One of the key changes was a number of new LGBT+ restrictions on churches, nonprofits, and individuals simply desiring to live out their faith. The “Virginia Values Act” upholds certain values, while targeting and punishing others. The law purports to compel churches, religious schools, and other Christian ministries to hire employees who do not share the ministries’ beliefs on marriage, sexuality, or gender identity. It is easy to understand why a ministry needs the employees implementing the mission to be able to agree with the mission and live it out! In tandem with other Virginia legal changes, the law presents quite a threat for religious organizations. Churches, nonprofits, and ministries whose values do not align with the new Act are subject to enforcement action, including $100,000 fines, unlimited damages, punitive damages, and more.

A similar law requires Virginia ministries to include coverage for sex reassignment and “gender affirming” surgeries, procedures which run contrary to their beliefs, in ministry-sponsored health care plans. It also appears to prohibit the ministries from offering sex-specific classes for parenting, Christian discipleship, and sports.

The problem is that these laws fly in the face of existing legal authority protecting the religious freedom of these ministries and others in the First Amendment, the Constitution of Virginia, and state law.

Judicial action is necessary to resolve the discrepancy between the new laws and existing religious liberty protections in the Virginia Constitution and elsewhere. For more information on this suit and a similar suit pending in Federal court please see the ADF resource page.

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Disclaimer: This legal alert is provided for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice particular to your situation. No recipients of this memo should act or refrain from acting solely on the basis of this memorandum without seeking professional legal counsel. Simms Showers LLP expressly disclaims all liability relating to actions taken or not taken based solely on the content of this memorandum. Please contact Simms Showers for legal advice that will meet your specific needs.
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