|Eugene Delgaudio delivering anti-gay petitions to Capitol Hill|
Photo by Brody Levesque
By Brody Levesque | MONTGOMERY, AL -- The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent a letter today on behalf of a New Jersey same-sex couple, Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere, and their New York City based photographer Kristina Hill, 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, 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 a Colorado senator, Jean White, who supported Colorado’s civil union legislation. White, a Republican, lost in the primary.
“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.”
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 was taken to memorialize the couple’s engagement. They shared the photo with family and friends through Edwards’ blog, along with photos of the couple’s wedding ceremony. Many of the couple’s friends and family could not attend their wedding and sharing their photos online was a way to let others participate in their celebration.
“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.”
The original photo, taken by Kristina Hill of Kristina Hill Photography, depicted the couple with a New York City skyline as the backdrop. The image was misappropriated by Delgaudio, who super-imposed the couple onto a snowy, tree-filled background to imply the photo was taken in Colorado close to White’s former district. Bold words, on a red background, were also added: “State Senator Jean White’s idea of “Family Values?” ”
“When I took this photo, I was capturing the love that Brian and Tom share." said Kristina 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.”
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 instance, 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
- Mischaracterising national legislation to address an epidemic of anti-LGBT harassment at schools as “requiring schools to teach appalling homosexual acts... force private and even religious schools to teach a pro-homosexual agenda... ram through their entire perverted vision for a homosexual America.... create a new America based on sexual promiscuity.”
A copy of the demand letter can be viewed here.