A Virginia traditional-values advocacy group has won a partial court victory in a lawsuit over the unauthorized use in two political mailers of two men kissing.
Public Advocate of the United States, led by Eugene Delgaudio, and other co-defendants, were found to have been within their First Amendment rights to use an altered photograph of two New Jersey gay men on political mailers used in two Colorado legislative races in 2012.
The ruling marked a partial victory for Public Advocate, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, National Association for Gun Rights and other defendants against the Southern Law Poverty Center, which filed the case on behalf of the photographer and the men whose engagement picture had been used without their permission.
Photographer Kristina Hill and now-husbands Brian Edwards and Thomas Privitere were aghast that a photo of them kissing was used to encourage opposition to two candidates who supported gay unions.
In his March 31 ruling, U.S. District Judge Wiley Y. Daniel in Denver said that because the photo was used non-commercially and “for a matter that was newsworthy or of legitimate public concern,” he was dismissing some of the lawsuit’s claims with prejudice.
But he permitted the copyright-infringement claims by the plaintiffs to go forward to trial.
Mr. Delgaudio, who is an elected supervisor in Loudoun County, said Tuesday that because of dismissal of the case’s main claim, he expected any damage award against his nonprofit group and the other defendants to be small.
Some 7,000 Colorado residents received one of the two mailers with the altered engagement photo.