A film-and-video lab owner has filed suit against a county Human Rights Commission for ordering him to duplicate two pro-homosexual videos produced by a lesbian activist.
Tim Bono and Bono Film and Video, Inc. of Arlington, Va., is challenging the authority of the Arlington County Human Rights Commission, the Arlington County Board and Arlington County.
The controversy began when Tim Bono was contacted by lesbian activist Lilli Vincenz via e-mail to reproduce documentaries entitled “Gay and Proud” and “Second Largest Minority.”
Bono told Vincenz his company does not duplicate material that is obscene, could embarrass employees, hurt the company’s reputation or runs counter to the company’s core values and to Christian ethics.
Vincenz filed a complaint with the Arlington Human Rights Commission under the county’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which was amended to include “sexual orientation.”
On April 13, the commission entered a decision directing Bono Film to “provide the requested duplication service at the complainant’s expense or in the alternative to assist the complainant in locating a suitable facility where this service can be provided at the Bono Film and Video’s expense.”
Bono, represented by Florida-based Liberty Counsel, argues Virginia law, under a provision called “Dillon’s Rule,” prohibits local government from passing or enforcing nondiscrimination laws that are not authorized by the state.
The state does not list “sexual orientation” as a protected civil right or class.
Liberty Counsel says that in addition to removing the county commission’s authority to enforce “sexual orientation” nondiscrimination laws, the lawsuit also will affect several other Virginia counties that have illegally passed “sexual orientation” antidiscrimination laws.
The suit also alleges violations of Bono’s freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.
Erik Stanley, chief counsel of Liberty Counsel, contends that just as a newspaper is not required to run every proposed ad, a duplicator or printer is not obligated to reproduce every proposed copy.
“Mr. Bono does not have to reproduce a customer’s hate speech, obscenity or pornography, nor may a customer hijack Mr. Bono’s business and force him to promote a homosexual agenda,” he said.
Stanley points out that several years ago, the Virginia attorney general issued an opinion concluding that local “sexual orientation” laws violated state law.
Bono’s case is similar to that of Scott Brockie, a Canadian Christian printer who was penalized $5,000 in 2001 for refusing to print letterhead for a homosexual advocacy group.
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