A billboard posted by a dating website expressing support for same-sex marriage was "unintentionally" placed adjacent a Florida Catholic Church, says the creator of the dating website.
Greg Hodge, creator and managing director of beautifulpeople.com, had billboards posted in communities like Clearwater, Fla., to promote support for same-sex marriage and the new LGBT versions of his dating site.
These posters featured notable public figures in doctored photos; one of these billboards was placed right next to St. Michael's Catholic Church. Hodge told The Christian Post that the move was "unintentional."
"We were unaware that the billboard in Florida was opposite St. Michael's Catholic Church or any church for that matter," said Hodge. "However, it would not have factored into our decision of where to post the billboard either way if we had known."
Roman Catholic Church teaching deems homosexuality a sin and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is known for its opposition to same-sex marriage. According to local media, St. Michael's at one point circulated among its 2,000-member congregation a voter guide that laid out the positions of Republican candidates regarding issues like whether marriage was "the exclusive union of one man and one woman."
The office at St. Michael's directed CP to the Diocese of St. Petersburg for comment. However, the diocese did not return a request for comment by press time.
According to Hodge, his dating site posted a couple billboards via the company Clear Channel Outdoor to promote the two new gay versions of beautifulpeople.com.
"BeautifulPeople.com has launched two exclusively gay versions: beautifulpeoplegay.com and beautifulwomenonly.com. We want to emulate the same success we have had on beautifulpeople.com on our gay sites," said Hodge.
"Until our gay members are afforded the same rights as their fellow citizens we will be campaigning for marriage equality. We believe it is a basic human right to marry the person you love."
Originally, the billboards featured doctored photos of public figures as part of advertising. One billboard showed Republican candidate Mitt Romney and Donald Trump hand-in-hand with President Barack Obama presiding over their nuptials.
However, Clear Channel Outdoor refused to post these billboards and removed the images of the public figures before posting the ads.
"We were very disappointed that our original billboard images were not put up, as they are clearly a colorful and humorous campaign in support of marriage equality," said Hodge.
"Clear Channel refused the original images which is why they went up in censored form."
Jim Cullinan, vice president of Communications for Clear Channel Outdoor, explained to The Christian Post that the move was not "censorship" but rather a matter of law.
"As we do with every ad that an advertiser submits, we review the ad to be sure it is appropriate and legal," said Cullinan. "But the ad contained images of several people (President Obama, Governor Romney and others) and Beautiful People didn't have the legal rights to use these images."
Cullinan stressed that "no advertiser is allowed to use an image for which they don't have rights. That is simply what happened."