The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter today demanding that Eugene Delgaudio, president of the anti-gay hate group Public Advocate of the United States, stop using the personal photo of a gay couple in a political campaign against a pro-gay former elected official.
The group used an altered engagement photo of an actual gay couple, Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere of New Jersey, to attack Colorado Sen. Jean White for supporting the state’s civil union legislation. Public Advocate apparently obtained the photo after it was posted online along with pictures of the couple’s wedding to share with friends and family members could not attend their wedding.
SPLC has designated Public Advocate as a hate group for spreading inflammatory lies about LGBT people to incite public sentiment against them.
The original photo, which was taken by Kristina Hill, showed the couple with a New York City skyline as the backdrop. Public Advocate super-imposed the couple’s image onto a snowy, tree-filled background to imply it was taken in Colorado close to White’s former district. The headline stated: “State Senator Jean White’s idea of ‘Family Values?’”
“Delgaudio’s use of Brian and Tom’s personal photo is morally reprehensible,” said Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for SPLC. “For years, Delgaudio and Public Advocate have led a crusade against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. This latest attack … should serve as a warning that your personal photos are not safe from anyone willing to stoop to the vilest level of harassment.”
The couple and the photographer learned about the misappropriation of their photo from a friend of the couple.
“This photo represented our love and commitment and the many challenges we have overcome in order to share our lives together,” Edwards said. “When I first saw how our photo had been publicly destroyed and used against gay and lesbian families, I was shocked, heartbroken, and livid. I don’t want this to happen to another gay or lesbian couple.”
“When I took this photo, I was capturing the love that Brian and Tom share,” Hill said. “When I saw how my image was used, I was sad for Brian and Tom. I was angry that someone would take my work, distort it and use it to reflect the opposite of what it was meant to express.”