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Conservative Hate Group Uses Gay Couple's Wedding Picture In Attack Ad


This is heinous: the DC-based conservative group Public Advocate of the United States snatched a photo of gay couple Brian and Tom's New York wedding and photoshopped it into an attack ad against Colorado State Senate Jean White, whom conservatives loathe for her advocacy of same-sex civil unions.

Brian offers his thoughts on the unauthorized use of his and Tom's image at their blog, The Gay Wedding Experience.

[The original picture] is a reminder of the happiness I felt the day he proposed to me and of the excitement I had all throughout our engagement. It represents hope and it represents love. Or at least it did…

Now I see it faded and brown with a big red, blood-emulating slash across our bodies.  It cuts us in half just below our hearts. How do I feel?

I’m in shock and I’m angry and I’m hurt and I’m flabbergasted and I’m livid.

...I can’t help but feel the need to warn other LGBT couples that hey, even after you overcome your fears of coming out to your families and friends and coworkers; even after you graduate and leave that hell-hole of a high school, where every single day you feared for your life; even after all the letters to your senators and the countless marches that eventually won you and your state the marriage equality you deserve; even after you find your soul mate, get engaged and then married… someone, a stranger, will seek out your image on the internet [and] steal it and use it in an attempt to destroy others who support you.

It's worth noting that despite its innocuous seeming name, the Public Advocate of the United States is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group." Now you understand why.

See Brian and Tom's original wedding picture, taken by Kristina Hill, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. Ugh. The Right is getting uglier and uglier everyday. Aren't people tired of hating? Surely they have limits.

    Posted by: Kantina | Jun 28, 2012 8:16:42 AM

  2. OMG, I used a couple of their pictures in my Marriage Equality video @

    I didn't even know who they were, so I thank Towleroad for that. However, to use their wedding photo's, a sign of love, for hate is disgusting. That is straight out bigotry and the organization needs to be 'outed' again as a "hate group" and candidates who are affiliated/linked with this hate group also need to be outed as bigots!

    Posted by: CB | Jun 28, 2012 8:17:51 AM

  3. Dear Brian and Tom - despite the misuse of your image, the original picture is very lovely and I believe does capture family values in the truest form - loving another to the point where you are willing to commit to your union as something greater than either of you individually. No matter how hard anyone else tries, your love and willingness to celebrate it will always be greater than all their hate combined. I am glad you are sharing it and hope it helps you succeed in taking back your associations with the picture

    Posted by: Ellen | Jun 28, 2012 8:21:47 AM

  4. The hate of right-wingers/social conservatives against the gay community knows no bounds. And the worst thing is that these people truly believe that Brian and Tom are evil. And as Brian put it perfectly, these bigots don't even know this couple. But solely because they are gay, they are somehow sick, demented, immoral, an attack on the moral fabric of America. It's hard to fathom, and it's incredibly angering.

    Posted by: Francis | Jun 28, 2012 8:33:11 AM

  5. What a lovely picture and day it was. They'll never be able to take that away from you boys no matter how hard they try. Hey, let's start a fund for them like the elderly bus monitor. I'd donate to that!!

    Posted by: Gigi | Jun 28, 2012 8:38:50 AM

  6. I know that if this happened to me I would be out of my mind upset. My wedding pictures are sacred to me. You just have to blow that one up on 20X20 canvas and surround it with other awesome photos on your living room wall :) That's what I would do.

    Posted by: David | Jun 28, 2012 8:41:32 AM

  7. Isn't there something illegal about this? Is it a violation of copyright laws. Shouldn't they consult a lawyer?

    Posted by: Putney | Jun 28, 2012 8:44:20 AM

  8. Three words:

    SUE. SUE. SUE.

    I don't know about U.S. specific laws, but here in Quebec this usage of a person's own image is actually illegal under not copyright law, but Privacy law -- even a newspaper here may not publish a person's own image (even if taken in public) without consent.

    Posted by: Strepsi | Jun 28, 2012 8:52:40 AM

  9. I'm not a lawyer, but they may have grounds for a suit. Unless they bought the rights to the photo, the photographer owns the copyright, and I believe reproduction or use constitutes a basis for lawsuit. (Depends on the definition of "use" I suppose, seeing as there were obviously significant edits.) But use of someone's likeness without permission has also been grounds for a lawsuit. Either way, they should get a good lawyer and take these bigots out.

    Posted by: KLS | Jun 28, 2012 8:58:51 AM

  10. The actual copyright holder of the image should talk to an attorney, immediately. Perhaps someone at Lambda Legal. It doesn't matter if the photo was edited, that point is that the source image was used without permission.

    Posted by: Eric | Jun 28, 2012 9:01:50 AM

  11. A lawsuit should be filed immediately. If a gay couple photoshopped Maggie Gallagher into their wedding album, you can bet your bippie NOM would be standing at the courthouse doors when they opened the next day.

    Posted by: diatribesandovations | Jun 28, 2012 9:13:58 AM

  12. With the rhetoric getting nastier, more personal, and more violent by the day, I'm guessing we're about to reach that tipping point.

    SCOTUS ruling on DOMA - one year from today, or sooner.

    Enjoy your broken "family values" while you can, bigots. You only have a year left.

    Posted by: kpo5 | Jun 28, 2012 9:19:29 AM

  13. Great picture of the positive values of real families. Own it! celebrate it! Vote for Jean White!

    Posted by: Michael | Jun 28, 2012 9:39:42 AM

  14. Unless they or the photographer made the photo available for commercial use via stock licensing (in which case you don't necessarily have control over how it's used), then they should have legal recourse. And they should use it! Not the kind of hassle anyone wants to have, but if copyright laws were violated, legal action is more effective than moral outrage and hurt feelings.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jun 28, 2012 9:49:02 AM

  15. Unless that hate group licensed the photo for use, their ass is broke.

    Posted by: Randal Oulton | Jun 28, 2012 9:49:55 AM

  16. While the original copyright owner is filing the lawsuit, I suggest finding wedding photos of PAUS's board and taking them all to task with a separate campaign: Hate Group Member.

    Posted by: luminum | Jun 28, 2012 9:50:31 AM

  17. Not surprising. Some of these antigay groups use photos of real LGBT families to attack our rights, but they use stock photos to represent and glorify heterosexual families. So our families are fair game for their attacks, but they don't want their families pictured.

    Posted by: john patrick | Jun 28, 2012 9:55:02 AM

  18. Yes, because consensual love between two adults is just so wrong. /end snark

    I don't know if the "fair use" doctrine would apply to their photo, but yes, they should contact a lawyer and give their support to Colorado State Senate Jean White.

    Posted by: Phoenix Justice | Jun 28, 2012 10:08:17 AM

  19. They could absolutely sue for the unauthorized use of the photo and also the unauthorized use of their own images.

    Posted by: Leo | Jun 28, 2012 11:12:18 AM

  20. SUE. Take them for every penny they would use against us.

    Posted by: Jon Mitchell | Jun 28, 2012 11:13:25 AM

  21. If the photo is posted online without consent they could file a DCMA notice to have it taken down.

    Posted by: anon | Jun 28, 2012 11:29:57 AM

  22. it's jerry falwell all over again. presenting a simple gesture of love as if it's the most horrific evil thing ever.

    what bigots.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jun 28, 2012 11:34:40 AM

  23. Yes, they can sue. They can sue PAUS into bankruptcy court. They would be fools if they did not sue.

    The irony of all this? PAUS' use of this to slander State Senator White will backfire on them.

    The photo is not of some depraved sex-act or two leather men in bare-ass leather chaps.

    It is a photo of two men kissing, almost chastely.

    Yes, there are those extreme elements, of which PAUS is Exhibit A, who would find such a photo repulsive.

    But, I am certain that most people will not.

    Simply by showing two men in the simple act of kissing one another, fully-clothed, tenderly holding hands, in the midst of a scene of the pristine beauty of pure-white snow only emphasizes and clarifies that, in the end, there is nothing to fear from same-sex couple getting married under civil law.

    In fact, more and more Americans will look at that attack ad and decide "Hmmm, those young men look like they love each other. Yes, those ARE family values: love, devotion and commitment."

    I think whoever runs public relations for PAUS didn't think this one through.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jun 28, 2012 12:39:50 PM

  24. I am, frankly, surprised that the photo they chose was not one of two men in leather straps dancing together in public. This image is beautiful, even with the doctoring and the bloody scrawl. I believe they will find it working against them. If that is what the candidate they are supporting is afraid of, then s/he is too easily scared and should be voted against. I will agree that the implications of this ad are very unfortunate, but what it actually shows may not be what was intended by the designers. They have failed, and we should shout out loud just how miserably they have failed.

    Posted by: Nathaniel | Jun 28, 2012 12:43:23 PM

  25. That is utterly odious.Will these hateful disgusting,idiotic individuals ever get tired of hating?

    Posted by: Miguel | Jun 28, 2012 1:55:58 PM

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