Metro Morning

Toronto couple fights back after birth photo used in campaign against same-sex parenting

'Kill them with kindness'

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This photo of new dads BJ Barone and Frank Nelson holding their newborn baby Milo. (Lindsay Foster Photography/Facebook)

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It was a photograph that captured the world's attention: the moment two Toronto dads met their baby, only seconds after his birth. There were tears of joy in the hospital room, while the birth mother looked on.  

Now that same photo is getting attention for a different reason. It is being used by some politicians in Europe who don't believe gay couples should be allowed to have children.

The two fathers are not impressed.

Anti Surrogacy Baby 7:08

BJ Barone, one of the fathers of the baby in the photo, found out about the use of son Milo's birth for political purposes through a cousin in Italy. Barone, who doesn't speak much Italian, was not able to fully communicate with the political party, Brothers of Italy, or Fratelli d'Italia.

That was only the beginning, however. Barone found out other political groups were using the photo as well — all in an effort to legislate against same-sex parenting and surrogate parents.

A right-wing politician in Ireland had been using the photo to campaign for her cause for more than a year.

BJ Barone right wing poster

An Italian political party has used the photo to campaign against surrogacy for same-sex couples.

"Never in a million years did we ever expect any publicity from this, it was a private photo," he said. "We never thought this would happen."

Barone decided to fight it "with kindness." He organized a Twitter protest, but put a unique twist on it.

"We asked everyone to tweet here with hashtag #WeAreFamily with the photos," he said, which caused a deluge of tweets at the politician. "She made her Twitter account private after that."

The non-outrage protest was "to kill them with kindness," Barone said. "We were interviewed in an Irish newspaper, and I said thank you to this woman because she's giving us an opportunity to teach our son that there is intolerance, and that you can do something about it."

What has happened in parts of Europe and Barone's efforts to reclaim the photo haven't changed what it means to him.

"Milo was seconds out of the womb, umbilical cord still attached. The midwife yelled, 'Take your shirts off!" We whipped our shirts off, and the baby was given to us. The umbilical cord was still attached," he said.

"It's so so crazy. Words can't describe the amount of love you have for someone, for the baby, for the partner."

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