GAY COUPLE SUES OVER USE OF ENGAGEMENT PHOTO BY HATE GROUP
Thu, 27 September 2012
A married American gay couple is suing a hate group for using their engagement picture to attack same-sex marriage.
The photo, which shows Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere holding hands and kissing, was used by the group, without the couple’s permission, in a mailer attacking Colorado Senator Jean White, who supports marriage equality.
The original photo showed the couple with the New York City skyline in the background. The group superimposed the couple onto a snowy, tree-filled background to imply the photo was taken in Colorado and added the words: “State Senator Jean White’s idea of ‘Family Values?’”
"We are heartbroken that our images may have been seen by gay and lesbian youth in Colorado and were left feeling ashamed of their sexual orientation because of it,” Privitere said. “We hope that this group is held accountable for its reprehensible and hateful anti-gay attacks.”
Edwards told AP that photo’s misuse brought back childhood memories of being bullied. “Tom and I both cringe now when we look at our engagement photo, a photo which will forever live on the internet as a message of hate," he said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit, on behalf of the couple and photographer Kristina Hill, on Wednesday against Public Advocate of the United States, an anti-gay group based in Virginia.
The lawsuit charges that Public Advocate misappropriated the likeness and personalities of the couple. It also claims that as a result, the couple suffered harm, including mental distress and anguish.
“This case is about the defilement of a beautiful moment by a group known for demonising the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said Christine P. Sun, SPLC deputy legal director. “This was just a cheap way for Public Advocate to avoid having to pay for a stock photo to use in their hateful anti-gay attack ad. It was nothing short of theft.”
The couple shared the original engagement photo with family and friends through Edwards’ blog, along with photos of the couple’s wedding ceremony.