Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere are suing an anti-gay group called Public Advocate of the United States for using the couple's engagement photo in a homophobic advertisement. The photo, which was altered, was taken from the couple's website and used in a political campaign against Colorado State Senator Jean White, a Republican who supports gay unions.

The ad's tagline was "State Sen. Jean White's Idea of 'Family Values?'" White would eventually lose in the primary.

"I cringe every time I look at what once was one of our favorite photos," said Edwards, 32, in a statement from SPLC. "All I see now is the defiled image used to attack our family and our community. All we want is justice for the pain that Public Advocate has caused us. "

"We are heartbroken that our images may have been seen by gay and lesbian youth in Colorado and were left feeling ashamed of their sexual orientation because of it," Privitere, 37, said in the SPLC statement. "We hope that this group is held accountable for its reprehensible and hateful anti-gay attacks."

The couple are filing the suit with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which lists Public Advocate as a hate group.

"This case is about the defilement of a beautiful moment by a group known for demonizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community," said Christine P. Sun, SPLC deputy legal director. "This was just a cheap way for Public Advocate to avoid having to pay for a stock photo to use in their hateful anti-gay attack ad. It was nothing short of theft."

Here are a few other awful campaigns by Public Advocate:

  • A fundraising letter asked readers to "imagine a world where the police allow homosexual adults to rape young boys in the streets."
  • The group compared marriage equality to bestiality by staging a "Man-Donkey Mock Wedding Ceremony."
  • Public Advocate has claimed that permitting gay men to be Boy Scout leaders is "the same as being an accessory to the rape of hundreds of boys."
  • The group has mischaracterized federal legislation designed to address anti-LGBT harassment at schools as "requir[ing] schools to teach appalling homosexual acts" and leading to "a new America based on sexual promiscuity."

Edwards and Privitere are asking for damages, costs and attorney fees, and a court order stating that Public Advocate broke the law by using the photo without permission.

[Image via AP]