Entries in Hate Groups (4)


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


Minority Births Enrage White Hate Groups

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The number of radical hate groups and militias has exploded in recent years in reaction to the changing makeup of America. And new census figures showing the majority of babies born in 2011 were non-white could fuel those simmering tensions, experts who track hate groups warned.

"White supremacist groups have been having a meltdown since the census bureau predicted that non-Hispanic whites would lose the majority by 2050," said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. "The demographic change in this country is the single most important driver in the growth of hate groups and extremist groups over the last few years."

The data released this week revealed a tipping point in the country's demographic shift. For the first time in the country's history, more minority children were born than white children, setting the stage for an eventual non-white majority in America's population.

The census found that 50.4 percent of births in 2011 were of Hispanic, black, Asian, and other minority children. White babies accounted for 49.5 percent of the country's newborns.

In addition, more than 49 percent of all children under 5 years old are minorities, the report said.

For white supremacist and radical right-wing groups, the data is especially troubling, and made all the more apparent by the fact that a black man was elected president, Potok said.

"This very real and very significant change is represented in the person of Barack Obama. We've of course seen the most remarkable growth in the radical right since 2008, precisely coinciding with Obama's first three years as president," he said.

According to the SPLC, the number of radical "anti-government" militia groups increased from 150 to 1,274 during the years of the Obama presidency. There have been more homegrown domestic terrorism attacks by right-wing groups than by international terrorists during his presidency as well, Potok noted.

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, said white supremacist groups have increased their efforts to recruit and plot based on the changing racial makeup of America.

"I think that what we're seeing is that hate groups, particularly white supremacist groups, are talking a lot about the fact that whites will soon be a minority in this country, that their goal at all costs is to preserve the white race in civilization, which spurs them to recruit more, and have more incendiary rhetoric," Mayo said.

Potok pointed out that more young people than ever before, hovering around 95 percent of young voters, approve of interracial relationships and marriage. Though the country is going through a "backlash" against demographic changes, newer generations will come to accept the changes, he said.

"The thing I think to understand is that the radical right is not entirely composed of people who are insane. These are people reacting to real changes in the real world around them," Potok said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Hate Groups Are Popping Up in US, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- Hate is up in America.

A new study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which follows the activities of hate groups, finds that over 1,018 of these organizations were in operation last year, representing people who have biases towards minorities, gays, religions and other characteristics they have contempt for.  That’s a dramatic increase from 2000 when 620 of these group were counted by the center.

Furthermore, there’s been an explosion of militias and so-called patriot groups, from 824 in 2010 to 1,274 in 2011.

Study author Mark Potok told The New York Times, “They represent both a kind of right-wing populist rage and a left-wing populist rage that has gotten all mixed up in anger toward the government.”

Much of the anger on the right is directed at President Obama, his perceived favoritism for minorities and the notion that he wants to take guns away from Americans.

Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street, which popped up in cities all over the U.S. last year, was not listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center because it’s not considered extremist.  On the other hand, the Georgia Militia was upgraded from a "patriot" group to a hate group for an alleged plot to blow up government buildings.

According to the study, hate groups have turned out be most active in California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and New York.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hate Groups on the Rise in US

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a report Wednesday highlighting the rise of hate groups in the United States over recent years.

The SPLC documented 1,002 hate groups operating in 2010 -- a 7.5-percent increase from the 932 groups active just one year earlier and a 66-percent rise since 2000.

The report's data marks the first time the number of hate groups has topped 1,000 since the SPLC began counting them in the 1980s.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio