Imagine that your wedding photo, which you shared with family and friends on the internet, was secretly used to fuel a political battle that you were unaware of. That’s exactly what happened to New Jersey couple Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere.
The two men were married in 2010 and shared a touching picture of their wedding kiss for friends and family on the internet. Months and months later, a friend discovered that the wedding photo was used on an anti-gay political mailer being sent out during the election season.
The mailer includes a photo of the couple kissing in front of a snowy background. The words “State Senator Jean White’s Idea of ‘Family Values?’” are plastered over their intimate, sweet, personal moment. The language and the image was part of a campaign engineered by a group called Public Advocate of the United States. They launched a campaign against Senator Jean White, a republican who favored civil union rights, Good Morning America reports.
Sen. White did lose the campaign, but Edwards and Privitere lost their privacy in this incident. Privitere’s reaction to the disturbing use of their wedding photograph sums up the feelings of the couple:
We were heartbroken to see that our picture that was taken to represent love and family, and our values, and to share with other LGBT couples, was used for complete opposite purposes to induce fear and spread hate and bigotry.
The couple and the photographer who took the picture are planning to pursue a lawsuit against Public Advocate. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC) plans to help the couple get answers and pursue a possible legal case against the organization, which opposes any LGBT rights in the United States. Both Edwards and Privitere hope this incident will help spread awareness and support to others who are facing such discrimination.
SLPC has not included Public Advocate on any official hate group listings at this moment, yet some of the statements that the organization’s Eugene Delgaudio makes seem pretty outright hateful. Recently, Delgaudio petitioned against what Public Advocate called the “Homosexual Classroom Act.” In his speech, he stated that the bill, “contains words that will eventually require schools to teach homosexual acts and spin impressionable students away from normal lifestyles.” His statement sets “normalcy” as oppositional to LGBT relationships.
Delgaudio has also denied any knowledge of this propaganda or the use of the couple’s photo. As SLPC awaits a response from Public Advocate regarding the possibility of a new legal challenge, the president, as quoted by Yahoo! News, stated: “I am searching whether or not we have the photo…I have not commented on this ever and I have no statements on it… Someone could do this without my permission — but I am working on it.”
With hundreds of these mailers having already reached a number of homes in the United States, it is clear that Public Advocate obtained and used the photo for their own gains without notifying the owners. The saddest twist in the whole story is that a day that was meant to be a happy memory has been used by anti-LGBT organizers to criminalize loving relationships and basic civil rights.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons