MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Southern Poverty Law Center said it plans to file a lawsuit on Wednesday, Sept. 26, in Denver in the U.S. District Court for Colorado against a Falls Church, Va.-based anti-gay group over a direct-mail campaign that used an altered version of a New York gay couple’s engagement photo without their knowledge or permission.
Public Advocate of the United States — identified as an anti-gay hate group by the SPLC — whose president is Eugene Delgaudio, used a personal engagement photo of Brian Edwards and his husband Tom Privitere in an anti-gay mailer to attack several Colorado state lawmakers including Republican State Senator Jean White, who supported Colorado’s civil union legislation.
The photo, taken to memorialize the couple’s engagement, was shared with family and friends through Edwards’ personal blog, along with photos of the couple’s wedding ceremony.
White lost her party’s primary election in June, three weeks after voters in her district were bombarded with the direct mail from Public Advocate that featured the image of Edwards and Privitere kissing against a snowy, Rocky Mountain backdrop.
White said she believed the mailers (below) were “solely responsible for my defeat.”
In July, the SPLC announced it had taken up the case for Edwards and Privitere, along with their photographer, Kristina Hill.
The SPLC sent Public Advocate a cease and desist letter on July 23.
In press release on Tuesday, the SPLC said:
“Public Advocate, a group identified as a hate group by the SPLC, used the couple’s personal engagement photo without permission and altered the image to include anti-gay propaganda to attack Colorado state lawmakers including Sen. Jean White, who supported Colorado’s civil union legislation.”
SPLC deputy legal director Christine P. Sun will brief reporters Wednesday on a conference call regarding the full specifics of the lawsuit.