Entries in Couple (5)


Gay Couple Sues After Finding Pic on 'Hate Group' Mailer

Courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center(NEW YORK) -- Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere, a New Jersey couple whose photo of them kissing at their engagement party was altered and turned up in an anti-gay unions mailer 2,000 miles away, have filed a lawsuit against a group called Public Advocate of the United States.

They are seeking a court order alleging that the non-profit organization violated the law by the unauthorized use of the photo. They have also asked for damages, costs and attorney fees, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Colorado.

The couple received legal assistance from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), 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 [LGBT] 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."

The lawsuit was also filed on behalf of photographer Kristina Hill of Kristina Hill Photography, who owned the copyrighted photo.

Their photo had been posted on Edwards' personal blog and was originally set against the backdrop of the New York City skyline.

But the doctored photo showed the gay couple standing in a snowy Colorado setting and was used in a political campaign to attack a Republican who supported civil union legislation.

The tagline for the ad, which was sponsored by Public Advocate of the United States, was: "State Sen. Jean White's Idea of 'Family Values?'" White later lost 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."

Privitere works in entertainment ticketing and lives with Edwards, a college administrator, in Montclair, N.J. The couple has been together for 12 years.

The SPLC sent a letter to Public Advocate and its president, Eugene Delgaudio, in July warning that it was investigating the case. The letter demanded confirmation that the group cease using the photo. Neither Delgaudio nor Public Advocate responded to the letter, according to SPLC.

Public Advocate, based in Falls Church, Va., never had permission to use the photo, according to Hill, who runs her own wedding photography business.

The couple learned the photo had been taken without authorization from a friend who saw it in a mailer from Sen. White and called them in June.

SPLC's criteria for listing hate groups is based on those who "demonize" a class of people with "misinformation and lies," according to Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC Intelligence Project. Such groups include the Ku Klux Klan, anti-Semitic organizations, neo-Nazis and black supremacy groups.

"There are only a handful of anti-gay groups," said Beirich. "We don't list those who are against gay marriage or the Biblical prescription against gay marriage -- only the groups that are engaged in demonizing propaganda and lies about the gay community and basically lying about them to make them pariahs."

Previous campaigns by Public Advocate include:

A fundraising letter asking recipients to, "imagine a world where police allow homosexual adults to rape young boys on the streets?"

Comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality.

Suggesting having gays as Boy Scout leaders is, "the same as being an accessory to the rape of hundreds of boys."

Characterizing campaigns to stop anti-LGBT bullying as "requir[ing] schools to teach appalling homosexual acts ... force private and even religious schools to teach a pro-homosexual agenda."

Public Advocate president Eugene Delgaudio, who is head of the board of supervisors for Loudon County in Virginia, told ABC News in July that the ad campaigns are only "colorful language and hyperbole." He didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday on the suit.

Edwards and Privitere hope the incident is a teachable moment.

"We want to use this as an opportunity to educate people and show them that a gay couple can and do have loving relationships," said Edwards.

"This sort of thing has a trickle-down effect," said Privitere. "I think of all the closeted gay high school students who got mail that day and felt disheartened that they would never have a family and the parents on the fence about whether to accept their gay child for who they are. That hurts.

"These people are spreading lies, and I want them [recipients of the mailers] to know they have our support," he added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lesbian Teen Couple Found Shot In Texas Park, 1 Survives

Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, right, and Mary Christine Chapa, 18, are shown in this undated photo. (Handout)(PORTLAND, Texas) -- Police in Texas are searching for an assailant who targeted a teenaged lesbian couple in a close-range shooting that left one woman dead and the other in the hospital; authorities said the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.

Detectives are constructing a timeline of events, processing bullet casings found at the scene and are interviewing witnesses to understand what led up to the shootings of Mollie Olgin, 19, and Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, in the small town of Portland, Texas, a few miles from Corpus Christi.

"The families are devastated, obviously, but there's really no information that we've been able to determine yet that would indicate there was anyone who would want to do this to either of those girls," Police Chief Randy Wright told ABC News' Corpus Christi affiliate.

In knee-high grass near a scenic lookout at Violet Andrews Park on Saturday morning, police say a couple discovered the bodies of the two women, who friends say were dating.

Police believe both women were shot in the head around midnight. Olgin was pronounced dead at the scene. Chapa was taken to a local hospital and has since regained consciousness.

"The evidence suggests that there was a third party or parties involved," Wright said.

Friends of the couple told local media they had been dating for five months.

Vigils across the country have been planned to honor the two women.

Cleve Jones, a gay rights activist, noted the timing of the crime, which happened during Pride weekend.

"Last Friday, as millions of LGBT people and their allies were celebrating Pride, something awful happened in Portland, Texas. We need to respond publicly to this tragedy," he wrote. "Whoever shot Mary Christine Chapa and Mollie Judith Olgin, whatever the motive, regardless of where it happened, two beautiful girls were shot and one was killed. We need to honor the memory of Mollie and pray for the recovery of Mary."

Mary Kristene Chapa was last listed in critical but stable condition.

A celebration of Olgin's life will be held this Friday.

"Mollie touched the lives of everyone and will always be remembered for her intelligence, beauty, compassion, humor and her kind heart," her family wrote in her obituary.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Missing Vermont Couple Puzzles Police, Neighbors

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ESSEX, Vt.) -- It's been nearly a week since Bill and Lorraine Currier mysteriously vanished from their small town in Vermont.

"The fact that they've completely disappeared, none of it seems to make any sense," Essex police Lt. Robin Hollwedell told ABC News. "When two good people disappear from town with seemingly no explanation, that's a concern for us."

The couple was last seen by co-workers on Wednesday, June 8, around 5 p.m. They were reported missing by Bill Currier's sister, Diana Smith, the following day.

Smith told ABC News on Tuesday, "We're praying for their safe return."

The Curriers live in Essex, Vt., a fairly tight community with a population just over 19,000. Their absence was noticed immediately.

When Lorraine didn't show up for work on Thursday, Hollwedell said, the people she worked with were concerned. Police contacted Bill's employer and found he wasn't at work either.

Bill Currier, 49, is an animal care technician at the University of Vermont, and Lorraine Currier, 55, works at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Hollwedell said they weren't the kind of people who didn't call in if they were going to miss work. "They were very good about being at work, didn't take a lot of time off," he said.

On Friday police found the Curriers' car abandoned in an apartment building's parking lot, about a mile from their home.

They consider the couple's disappearance suspicious, in part because police say they appear to have left behind their daily medication.

Neighbor Edwin Shipley, 72, who lives two houses down from the Curriers, said the couple moved into the neighborhood about five years ago. Occasionally he exchanged small talk with Bill Currier, describing him as "a quiet kind of guy, but friendly enough."

"We're all pretty perplexed about it," he said, adding that he saw relatives visit the Curriers "all the time."

"I know they would always have company. Sometimes there would be a small bus on Sunday mornings," he said, speculating that it might have been for a religious service.

Anyone with information about the couple, especially in relation to their travels on Wednesday, should call the Essex, Vt. Police Department at 802-878-8331.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police Hope to Resume Search for Man Missing in Wilderness

Comstock/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- Authorities hope to begin searching again for the husband of a Canadian woman who was found alive Friday after surviving nearly seven weeks alone in the Nevada wilderness.

Albert and Rita Chretien's van became hopelessly stuck in the mud miles from any major road in mid-March. On March 22, after days being stuck, Albert decided to go to find help.

Despite a search of three states and more than 3,000 square miles, there is still no sign of him. Authorities hope to resume the search Monday if weather permits.

Rita Chretien was found Friday by hunters. She had lost 30 pounds and doctors said she was days from death.

At a press conference Sunday, the couple's son said Rita Chretien rationed the bits of food she had and drank melted snow to survive. The 57-year-old Chretien built a fire pit near the van, but it was too wet to start a blaze. She huddled in her van, stuffing pages of an old phone book in the window cracks to keep the frigid air out. She spent those 48 days reading her Bible and other books.

The couple's journey began on March 19, when they left their home in British Columbia for a 1,200 mile road trip to Las Vegas.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michigan Couple to Embark on 2,500-Mile Wedding March

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock (file photo)(CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich.) -- Joseph Crist and Laura Brunett are apparently in no rush to get hitched.

The Canton Township, Michigan couple says they'll begin hiking in mid-April to arrive at their destination in September, where they'll tie the knot.

All told, Crist and Brunett will cover 2,500 miles in 15-mile daily increments that will take them to Las Vegas and then Lake Mead, Nevada, where they'll actually get married.

After that, it's on to Los Angeles and a honeymoon in Hawaii, although the newlyweds will presumably fly to America's 50th state.

The couple, who've known each other since middle school, called their hike "creative marriage counseling."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio