SPLC demands hate group stop misusing gay couple’s engagement photo
It was supposed to be a reminder of one of the most special days shared by Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere – their engagement photo.
The black-and-white photograph shows the two men kissing with the New York City skyline in the background. The picture was one of several that Edwards posted on his blog to allow friends and family unable to attend the couple’s wedding to share their joy. But what was supposed to be a symbol of the life-long commitment between two people in love was hijacked by an anti-gay hate group.
The original: Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere posted this photograph of their engagement on Edwards' blog. (Photo by Kristina Hill)
“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 altered version: Here's how the photograph looked after it was doctored by Public Advocate of the United States and used in anti-gay propaganda.
Today, the SPLC sent a cease-and-desist letter to the group and Eugene Delgaudio, its president. The letter, sent on behalf of the couple and photographer Kristina Hill, warns that the SPLC 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. It asks Delgaudio to confirm within 10 days that he and Public Advocate have stopped using the photo.
“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.”
Hill, the photographer, said the doctored image twists the original meaning of the image.
“When I took this photo, I was capturing the love that Brian and Tom share,” she 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.”
Public Advocate has a history of attacking the LGBT community. 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.” It also describes other anti-gay activities by the group, including:
“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.”
The SPLC is dedicated to defending the rights of the LGBT community. It has worked to ensure a safe and respectful learning environment for all students – including LGBT students – through educational campaigns and legal action. And it has taken action to protect the rights of LGBT adults.