"Our clients have been devastated by this heinous misappropriation of what once reflected a beautiful moment," she said, according to a prepared statement. "We hope this lawsuit sends the strong message that hate groups may only promote their ideologies within the parameters of the law, and that they must answer for their actions when they do not."
The original photograph, taken by Hill in 2010, showed the couple kissing before the New York City skyline. In one altered image distributed by Public Advocate, snow-covered pine trees replaced the city setting, and a bright red banner with the words "State Senator Jean White's Idea of Family Values?" cut across the couple's chests.
The mailer targeted Colorado state Sen. Jean White, a Republican who has voted in support of a bill to allow same-sex couples to form civil unions. A doctored image was also used on another, similar mailer criticizing Jeffrey Hare, then a Republican candidate for the Colorado House of Representatives.
"That red slash demonstrates the hate that some have towards our community, and it speaks volumes," Edwards said Wednesday, according to a prepared statement. "And that is why we are here today, to take back our personal image and to take a stand against such vile and disgusting actions."
According to the lawsuit, Edwards and Privitere have feared for their safety because of the incident and the resulting publicity.
"Edwards and Privitere have been targets of hate messages by people who have seen their likenesses" on the mailers, the complaint said. "People have posted on the Internet that Edwards and Privitere deserve to go to hell, that they deserve to be killed, and that any children that they may have would be better off dead."