DENVER (AP) - A New Jersey gay couple whose engagement photo was used in a Colorado campaign attack mailer said Wednesday the image that once represented their commitment now makes them cringe.
The couple filed a lawsuit in Denver federal court against the group that used the photo without their permission and put it on mailers against a Colorado Republican state lawmaker who supported a failed civil unions bill.
The photo of Brian Edwards, 32, and Tom Privitere, 37, holding hands and kissing with a New York City skyline as a backdrop was on display in front of the courthouse. Edwards said they are suing to "take back the beautiful image in our lives that was reflected in our engagement photo."
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of the couple Wednesday against Virginia-based Public Advocate of the United States.
"At one time, it made us happy to look at this photo and see all it represented love, home, excitement for our upcoming marriage," Edwards said.
Christine P. Sun, SPLC deputy legal director, said they don't know how Public Advocate obtained the photo or why they picked it. It was posted on Edwards' personal blog.
The couple said they found out their photo had been used when a friend told them about a story mentioning it in the New York Daily News.
Sun said they're suing for monetary damages to be determined at trial, misappropriation of the couple's image and copyright violation. The photographer who took the photo is also a plaintiff in the case.
"They were devastated by the idea that a young person in Colorado could receive this mailer and feel ashamed about his or her sexual orientation," Sun said.
Public Advocate has not commented on the lawsuit through three email requests, including on Wednesday morning. Group president Eugene Delgaudio responded in a brief email Wednesday saying, "I got your note about the story about the report. I am looking into this."