New Jersey couple Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere are suing a group that used their engagement photo in two anti-gay campaign fliers in Colorado.
On behalf of Edwards and Privitere, the Southern Poverty Law center will file the suit against the Virginia-based Public Advocate of the United States. The firm altered the couple’s engagement photo to attack pro-gay Republican candidates, Sen. Jean White and Jeffrey Hare during primary elections. White had voted for a bill in support of civil unions and Hare was running for an open House seat in Weld County.
Originally pictured kissing before the Manhattan skyline, White’s attack ad placed Edwards and Privetere against a snowy backdrop with the words, “State Senator Jean White’s Idea of ‘Family Values?,'” while Hare’s featured clouds and posed the question, “Jeffrey Hare’s Vision for Weld County?” They both lost their primaries.
When the ads initially appeared, The Denver Post asked Public Advocate’s president, Eugene Delgaudio, why they used the photo and if they were worried about copyright infringement. He responded via email:
“We are a non-profit and make no money from any photos, postings, references, parodies, street theater or educational materials. Other groups make fair use of our materials or 2000 photos from our website under these broad principles of political education and we acknowledge a limited use of many of our own materials, by other groups, under parody, some fairly strong critical attacks from our political opposition on our efforts as part of a robust debate.”
Meanwhile, Edwards shared his disbelief and pain on his blog:
I can’t help but feel the need to warn other LGBT couples that hey, even after you overcome your fears of coming out to your families and friends and coworkers; even after you graduate and leave that hellhole of a high school, where every single day you feared for your life; even after all the letters to your senators and the countless marches that eventually won you and your state the marriage equality you deserve; even after you find your soul mate, get engaged and then married… someone, a stranger, will seek out your image on the internet, perhaps on a site like this one which was created to document our journey down the aisle with the hopes that our experiences would benefit other LGBT couples… steal it and use it in an attempt to destroy others who support you.
I tell you what – I never saw that coming, would you?
Don’t worry friends – this is not the end of this story.
True to his words, Edwards and Privitere will write the next chapter when the SPLC files their suit in Denver’s U.S. District Court later today.