The FBI allegedly is looking into the fundraising activities of Eugene Delgaudio, the head of an anti-gay organization called Public Advocate of the United States and an outspoken supervisor in Loudoun County, Va.
The Washington Post reports that a former aide turned over for FBI review documents supporting the complaint that Delgaudio had his county government staff working to raise money for Public Advocate activities.
Public Advocate has a history of anti-LGBT attacks, including a fundraising letter that asked readers to “imagine a world where the police allow homosexual adults to rape young boys in the streets,” staging a “Man-Donkey Mock Wedding Ceremony” to mock the marriage equality campaign; and mischaracterizing federal legislation to curb anti-LGBT harassment as a law requiring “schools to teach appalling homosexual acts.”
On Sept. 26, the Southern Poverty Law Center sued the group on behalf of Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere. Public Advocate allegedly altered and used the couple’s engagement photo in an attack ad in a Republican primary in Colorado.
The photo, which shows the couple kissing, was used in a mailer against Colorado state Sen. Jean White, who lost the primary after voting for a civil unions bill. For the ad, bold words on a red background were added to the picture: “State Senator Jean White’s idea of ‘Family Values?’” A snowy, tree-filled background was superimposed on the original New York City background in the photograph.
“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.”
Photographer Kristina Hill also is a plaintiff in the suit filed in federal court in Colorado.
The complaint alleges that Public Advocate misappropriated the likeness and personalities of the couple causing the plaintiffs to suffer mental distress and anguish.
“This case is about the defilement of a beautiful moment by a group known for demonizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said Christine P. Sun of SPLC. “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 SPLC sent Public Advocate a letter in July complaining of unauthorized use of a copyrighted photograph. The organization, which apparently took the photograph from Edwards’ blog, did not respond.
“I cringe every time I look at what once was one of our favorite photos,” Edwards said. “All I see now is the defiled image used to attack our family and our community. All we want is justice for the pain that Public Advocate has caused us.”