Just seconds after a gestational surrogate gave birth to their son, a photographer captured new dads BJ Barone and Frank Nelson holding the newborn against their bare chests for skin-to-skin bonding. The emotional scene — shot by Lindsay Foster on June 27, 2014 — quickly went viral.
“It’s a heartwarming feeling to see, you know, two dads that have wanted a child so badly actually reaching out within a second and touching the child and holding it,” Foster told Mashable.
But politician Mary Fitzgibbon of Ireland doesn’t see it that way. On February 12, the Independent Kerry election candidate shared the picture on her Facebook page with the caption #no2surrogacy. And during the marriage referendum campaign, she tweeted it with the message: “A motherless child is the prize - the buying of children.”
Fitzgibbon, according to her website, believes in “standing up for integrity [and] life equality.”
The conservative Italian Fratelli d’Italia-Alleanza Nazionale party and its youth wing also used the portrait without permission in their campaign against same-sex parents.
“When we first learned that our birth photo was being used illegally for hate propaganda in Italy and Ireland, we were upset, angry and confused,” Barone tells Us Weekly. “We didn’t quite understand how politicians could use this moment of pure love and joy to spread hated, bigotry and homophobia.”
The dads— who blog for Gays With Kids — are fighting back with kindness.
“We asked same sex families to tweet and email pictures of their families to these politicians, using the hashtag #WeAreFamily,” says Barone. “We want to get the message out there that family is about love, and not based on gender or sexual orientation.”
As for Mary Fitzgibbon, she has since made her Twitter account private.
And Barone and Nelson continue to focus on their 21-month-old son Milo.
“Life has changed so much for the better since he came into our lives,” gushes Barone to Us. “The best part of our day is waking up and hearing him say, ‘Dad, Papa!’ Melts our hearts!’”