Gay Couple ‘Heartbroken’ to Discover Engagement Photo Used on Anti-Gay Political Mailer

Montclair, NJ — A gay couple who had shared their engagement photo on the internet, a lighthearted pic showing the two men kissing against a snowy backdrop, were horrified to discover a politician’s campaign had appropriated the image without permission in order to tar an opponent.

New Jersey gay couple Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere tied the knot back in 2010, and like any soon-to-be-wed lovebirds, the pair wanted to announce their impending nuptials to friends and family.

Using a picture of the two kissing originally taken in front of the New York City skyline, they altered it to add the snowy background and apparently, the picture made its way into the hands of an anti-gay group across the country.

Unbeknownst to Edwards and Privitere, their joyous moment was then used to propagate anti-gay rhetoric on a mailer. The two were “heartbroken,” they say, to discover that their engagement photo had been sent to countless people on behalf of the “American Family Values” organization Public Advocate, which is listed as a hate group by the social justice organization the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Public Advocate, with a stated goal of opposing “special classes of Americans,” included the gay couple’s photo emblazoned with the phrase “State Sen. Jean White’s Idea of ‘Family Values?” in a mailer sent ahead of an election that White later lost.


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While the goal of preventing White’s re-election may have been met, the couple whose image was used in such a hurtful manner have seen their memory of a joyous event forever altered. Privitere, 37, told ABC:

“Our initial reaction was complete shock… 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 gay couple from New Jersey are working with the Southern Poverty Law Center to address the incident, and say that they hope their struggle may help others who find themselves on the receiving end of ugly bigotry like that displayed by the hate group.