Back in July, Scott Wooledge alerted us to the story of Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere, a gay couple in north Jersey. Longtime anti-gay activist Eugene Delgaudio photoshopped their wedding picture for an attack flyer in a Republican primary for a Colorado state senate race--one of the most despicable practices ever employed by a movement known for underhanded and despicable behavior. Well, earlier today Edwards, Privitere and the woman who took the picture, Kristina Hill, sued Delgaudio's organization, Public Advocate of the United States, for stealing the picture.
The couple alleged that Public Advocate seized upon that personal moment to spread what Edwards called a “message of hate” in two mailers it sent this spring during Republican primary races for the Colorado statehouse.Read the full filing here. It was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Christine Sun, who has been on the case since it broke. The suit alleges that Delgaudio infringed on Hill's copyright of the picture and misappropriated Edwards and Privitere's likenesses. According to the suit, Edwards and Privitere have been the targets of disgustingly homophobic messages online, including the suggestion that they deserve to be killed. It also claims that Delgaudio knowingly used those pictures when he could have just as easily used a stock photo.
One of the mailers targeted State Sen. Jean White, who supported a bill that would have granted same-sex civil unions. Across the couple’s image were the words: “State Senator Jean White’s Idea of ‘Family Values?’” The other one, aimed at House candidate Jeffrey Hare, read: “Jeffrey Hare’s Vision for Weld County?” Both candidates lost their races.
Looking at this, Delgaudio would be absolutely crazy to let this go to trial. About the only way I could have seen him winning this is if he claimed this was a parody. But private persons are not, and never have been, fair game for parodies. Throw in that he could have just as easily used a stock photo, and he really doesn't have a leg to stand on.
Unless there's something we haven't heard or seen, the only question should be how big the settlement will be. After all, if Edwards, Privitere and Hill wanted to, they could literally put Delgaudio out of business.