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Southern Poverty Law Center demands hate group stop using gay couple’s engagement photo

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Wednesday sent a letter on behalf of a New Jersey same-sex couple and their New York City-based photographer, demanding that the anti-gay “Public Advocate of the United States” group and its president, Eugene Delgaudio, stop using the couple’s personal photo in anti-gay propaganda.

Delgaudio and Public Advocate, designated by the SPLC as an anti-gay “hate group,” used an engagement photo of Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere without permission. The photo, taken by by Kristina Hill, was altered to include anti-gay propaganda to attack a Colorado senator, Jean White, who supported Colorado’s civil union legislation.

Eugene Delgaudio

“Delgaudio’s use of Brian and Tom’s personal photo is morally reprehensible,” said Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for the SPLC.

“For years, Delgaudio and Public Advocate have led a crusade against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. This latest attack is the most vicious yet and should serve as a warning that your personal photos are not safe from anyone willing to stoop to the vilest level of harassment,” said Sun.

The SPLC’s letter warns that it is investigating the unauthorized use of the copyrighted photo and demands that Delgaudio, Public Advocate and anyone acting on their behalf immediately stop using the photo.

The letter asks Delgaudio to confirm within 10 days that he and Public Advocate have stopped using the photo.

The photo, taken to memorialize the couple’s engagement, was shared with family and friends through Edwards’ blog, along with photos of the couple’s wedding ceremony.

“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,” he added.

The original and altered versions of the photo are depicted below.

Courtesy: Kristina Hill Photography

Original engagement photo of Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere.

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

“When I took this photo, I was capturing the love that Brian and Tom share.” said Hill of Kristina Hill Photography.

“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,” Hill said.

Neither the couple, nor Hill, knew about the misappropriation until a friend of the couple informed them about misappropriated photo.

“I was shocked to see our engagement photo with a big red slash across it. Knowing our image had been used to spread lies, hate, and fear, contradicts the original meaning of the picture” Privitere said. “It was used to attack what Brian and I hold dear – our lives together, our family, and marriage equality.”

This isn’t the first time Public Advocate has attacked the LGBT community, and earlier this year, the SPLC listed Public Advocate as a hate group for spreading misinformation about LGBT people.

The letter notes that Public Advocate “has spread lies and vitriol about LGBT people to raise funds, impede progress toward greater equality and to deny LGBT people basic dignity and respect.”

The letter notes other anti-gay activities by the group, including:

  • Provoking readers through a fundraising letter to “imagine a world where the police allow homosexual adults to rape young boys in the streets”;
  • Comparing marriage equality to bestiality through production of a “Man-Donkey Mock Wedding Ceremony”;
  • Defamation of gay people as pedophiles and rapists to be feared. For example, permitting gay men to be Boy Scout leaders, Public Advocate said, is “the same as being an accessory to the rape of hundreds of boys”; and
  • Mischaracterizing national legislation to address an epidemic of anti-LGBT harassment at schools as “requiring schools to teach appalling homosexual acts” and forcing “private and even religious schools to teach a pro-homosexual agenda.”

A copy of the demand letter can be viewed here.

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9 more reader comments:

  1. LGBTQ=Gay. Are they Afraid to Just say it.. Now we are Just Letter’s Again… Go Figure..

    Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 12:29pm
  2. GET OVER IT….

    Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 12:32pm
  3. To be honest Mark Porman its easier to write and say LGBTQ (in truth the full acronym is LGBTIQQ)the to actually go through every single one its just an Acronym. and if that is all you got out of that entire article then you more issues then just this one. The article rings true for all these Fallacies that these anti-gay groups use are ridiculous but to the common man it rings fear into their hearts and minds Fear causes hatred and mistrust we must work hard and diligently to stop these fallacies and prove to our counterparts that all we represent is love and that all we want is for acceptance from them and to allow us the same basic rights as them.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 12:39pm
  4. This may be extreme/nonsensical, but the couple should trademark their image or themselves, so other people would have to get permission and/or pay to use their likeness. Also, don’t celebrities walking down the street get their pictures taken and filth is plastered in mags with their image right above it?

    Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 12:47pm
  5. this is what i think only people hate gays they must be gay on the DL

    Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 12:57pm
  6. T=transgender, which has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality, but gender identity instead, therefore saying “gay ” wouldn’t have anything to do with anyone who identified as trans*.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 1:12pm
  7. Brandon – I’ve started to see lgbtqqi2sa (2s-two spirit, aNative American distinction, basically genders other than m or f; i – intersexed; a-allies). Gets to be quite a mouthful!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 9:47pm
  8. Yay! Somebody came to bat for these lovely folks!!! Good luck!!! :-{P}

    Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 9:48pm
  9. GO SPLC!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 10:12pm