What should have been immortalized as one of a couple’s happiest moments has been the target of an anti-gay group.
Tom Privitere and Brian Edwards, along with photographer Kristina Hill, have filed a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court claiming that Public Advocate of the United States illegally used the couple’s engagement photo.
Edwards, Hill, and Privitere claim that the organization used a photograph of the couple, taken near the Brooklyn Bridge in 2010, as an image on multiple anti-gay publications that the group distributed in Colorado, reports NBC news.
The publications were distributed during the Colorado Republican primary races early this year. The fliers targeted State Senator Jean White, who openly supported same-sex marriages, and House candidate Jeffrey Hare.
NBC News reports that Public Advocate president Eugene Delgaudio claims he is investigating the matter, but has declined to comment further.
Edwards, Hill, and Privitere are seeking damages for copyright infringement and court related costs.
“We want to take back the beautiful moment in our lives that was reflected in our engagement photo before it was hijacked,” Edwards, a 32-year-old college administrator living in Montclair, N.J., told NBC News on Monday before traveling to Colorado to file the lawsuit. “We also … want to take a stand for others who might be similarly targeted in the future.”
“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.”
“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.”
Edwards and Privitere worry about the impact that use of their photograph on the fliers may have had upon gay youth, friends, and family members who are struggling to accept their sexuality.