DENVER -- A New Jersey gay couple says they were shocked to find their engagement photo being used in an anti-gay advertisement here in Colorado.
And now they’re fighting back by suing the man they say is responsible.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is filing the lawsuit on behalf of the couple, and their photographer.
They will all be in Denver to make the announcement Wednesday.
Though they live in New Jersey, they are filing in Colorado because this is where the altered photo was distributed without their permission.
People who know Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere say when they took these engagement photos in New Jersey earlier this year, they had been in love for nearly 10 years.
The couple had no idea, that 2000 miles away in Colorado, that photograph and their image would be used as a weapon in a fierce Colorado primary fight for state senate.
“I didn't know at the time where that photo had come from,” said State Senator Jean White. “My initial reaction was that I was aghast that they would invade someone's privacy to use it in this way.”
White never shied away from her support of civil unions in Colorado even when she was down in the polls against Republican challenger Randy Baumgardner.
She was shocked when a conservative political action committee called The Public Advocate lifted the couple’s photograph without their permission and altered it for use in a campaign flier questioning just what her “family values” were.
“I had a very nasty primary. I didn’t know exactly where it had come from bit it really hurt my heart to think that they were attacking me on my principled vote,” White says.
She has never met the couple, but Wednesday she will join them and the photographer at the U.S. Courthouse in Denver where they will announce a federal lawsuit against Public Advocate’s president Eugene Delguadio for misappropriation of the photograph and inappropriate use as anti-gay propaganda.
FOX31 Denver also reached out to Public Advocate to see what the group had to say, but we did not hear back from them.
Jean White eventually lost her primary race.
But she says she is thrilled she will be in Denver Wednesday to meet the couple.