Gay Military Couple Hires Attorney After Their Wedding Photo Is Used In Political Attack Ad
What would you think if you saw your wedding picture being used in a political attack ad? That's the spot a local gay couple is finding themselves.
Their wedding was officiated by a candidate for state senate, but the couple says they didn't sign up to be caught in the mudslinging.
The Air Force veteran, who suffers from PTSD, said he and his husband are private citizens, and this is casting a shadow on a very important memory.
"After being together for nine years, we have a bond," said Shane Morgan, referring to his husband Landon.
Morgan said after serving in the Air Force during "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and spending so much time with Landon before they could legally marry, finally wearing his wedding ring means a lot.
"More than words can say," Morgan said. "This past December, we tied the knot."
Morgan said that's why he was shocked to see a political attack ad mailer featuring a wedding picture of the couple with Gayle Jordan, who's running for State Senate District 14.
Jordan officiated the wedding. The mailer features the picture. Above it, it says, "Liberal Gayle Jordan will 'destroy the fabric of American society.' Take her word for it."
The picture was lifted from Jordan's Facebook page without permission. Both of the men's faces are blurred, but Morgan said their faces can still be recognized.
"To see our picture on our wedding day being used in such a vile manner, it's taken that special moment and ruined it," Morgan said. "Ruined it. Very hurt. Very hurt."
The mailer was paid for by the Tennessee Republican Party.
A rep for the group said the mailer is only meant to highlight Jordan's Facebook post, accompanying the picture, which says, "Doing my part to destroy the fabric of American society."
The rep said the comment is very serious, even if made in jest, and the mailer doesn't have anything to do with the gay couple or have anything negative to say about them.
"I think they knew what they were doing," Morgan said.
Morgan and his husband have hired attorney Sunny Eaton of Eastside Legal, who said her clients were exploited for political purposes and their rights to privacy violated.
"It's just sad anyone would use someone's wedding photos, which represent one of the happiest days in their lives, to attack somebody," said Chris Sanders of the TN Equality Project. "It's fine to hit the candidate, but it's not right to sling mud on others in the process. That's what we're seeing here. It is just so emotionally unsettling to see your wedding photo, that happy day, used in that context."
"I'm under a lot of stress, and with my PTSD, it's just flaring up even worse," Morgan said. "I hate it. Don't use people's private personal pictures to smear your opponent."