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Gay couple ‘livid’ over use of engagement photo in anti-gay political mailer

Friday, June 29, 2012
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MONTCLAIR, N.Y. — A married same-sex couple in New Jersey said they are considering legal action against an anti-gay advocacy group for using an altered version of their engagement photograph in a anti-gay political mailer.

Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere said they were shocked to learn that their photograph was copied and used by Loudon County, Virginia, Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio’s anti-gay advocacy group, “Public Advocate Of The United States.”

The photo, taken two years during a photo shoot celebrating the couple’s engagement, was altered and used in political attack mailers against candidates in at least two Colorado legislative races.

Altered image of Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere used in anti-gay mailers.

Courtesy: Kristina Hill Photography

Original engagement photo of Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere.

Edwards and Privitere said use of their photo “is unjust and we promise that we will do what we can to make sure it doesn’t occur to other couples in the future, regardless of sexual orientation.”

I want to share what this picture means to me. It represents my first home away from home, my beloved NYC, which at the time this image was taken (2 years ago) did not allow same sex couples to marry. It represents my longterm relationship with my best friend, my partner, and now husband – the love we share and obstacles we have overcome,” Edwards wrote on the couple’s wedding blog.

“It is a reminder of the happiness I felt the day he proposed to me and of the excitement I had all throughout our engagement. It represents hope and it represents love. Or at least it did…

“Now I see it faded and brown with a big red, blood-emulating slash across our bodies. It cuts us in half just below our hearts. How do I feel? I’m in shock and I’m angry and I’m hurt and I’m flabbergasted and I’m livid.”

The Denver Post noted that Delgaudio defended using the photo, alleging that other individuals and groups have used his group’s [Public Advocate] copyrighted images.

“We are a non-profit and make no money from any photos, postings, references, parodies, street theater or educational materials.” Delgaudio said.

“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.”

According to the Post, the mailers targeted Republicans Jean White and Jeff Hare, both of whom lost in Colorado’s Tuesday primary elections.

“Public Advocate of The United States” was recently designated as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Edwards and Privitere said they have reached out to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Lamba Legal for assistance.

Update, 6/30/12: The couple reports that, after a couple days of phone conversations, Lambda Legal told them they would not pursue their case. “There is still no word from GLAAD despite our voicemail and two emails.”

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