Gay couple suing over wedding pamphlets sparks Vistaprint investigation

·Senior Editor
Stephen Heasley, left, and Andrew Borg at their September wedding. (Photo: Courtesy of Heasley and Borg)
Stephen Heasley, left, and Andrew Borg at their September wedding. (Photo: Courtesy of Heasley and Borg)

The two men who filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Vistaprint — the popular printing company that sent the couple a boxful of anti-gay pamphlets instead of the wedding programs they’d ordered — have prompted the printers to announce an investigation into the matter, as well as their commitment to marriage equality.

Stephen Heasley, 31, and Andrew Borg, 39, who live in Australia but were married in Pennsylvania, filed their claim in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, the state where Vistaprint is based. The couple spoke with Yahoo Lifestyle about their initial reaction to the bizarre box of pamphlets, which warned, among other things, “Satan entices your flesh with evil desires.”

“At first we thought it was simply a mistake, and we had accidentally received someone else’s order. But once we saw the images and actually read a bit of the pamphlet, we quickly realized this wasn’t a simple or innocent error,” the husbands said in an email. “Both of our initial reactions were ones of shock … utter shock. The wording and imagery was aggressive, threatening, and deeply personally offensive.”

They added, “This was by far the most direct, personal, and aggressive act of homophobia either of us has experienced to date,” regarding the shipment of homophobic pamphlets, which the couple received on the eve of their ceremony and a party for 100 guests.

Vistaprint told Yahoo Lifestyle that the company had first heard of the incident on Tuesday, and with the filing of the lawsuit, spokesperson Sara Nash offered additional comments about the situation on Wednesday.

“We are taking this situation extremely seriously. Below is an open letter we have shared with all of our customers and partners today, which further outlines our immediate actions to address this incident as well as Vistaprint’s commitment to using this as an opportunity to shine a light on important LGBTQ issues,” she wrote in an email.

The letter, signed by Trynka Shineman, Vistaprint CEO, and by Robert Keane, Vistaprint founder and CEO of parent company Cimpress, addressed their “customers and partners worldwide” with the following:

“Yesterday, we learned that a same sex couple who were married in Pennsylvania in September of last year ordered 100 custom wedding programs from Vistaprint and instead, received pamphlets expressing intolerance and judgment.

“We want to say how incredibly saddened we are to hear this story. To know that any person could be treated in such a way especially during a time that should be filled with joy is extremely disheartening. Imagine a customer who took the time to create something personal to mark this special day and instead, the day before their wedding, goes to open their wedding programs and finds these judgmental messages. We have never been more disappointed to let a customer down.

“We share in this couple’s outrage. Vistaprint in no way condones — and does not tolerate — discrimination against any of our customers based on their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We have encouraged members of the LGBTQ community to use our services to help celebrate their life events for many years, and have published thousands of wedding invitations, programs and other content for same sex couples.

“As an organization, we support diversity and reject discrimination in all forms. We have taken the following steps in response to this incident:

  • We have begun a complete investigation to determine how and why the couple received these materials. If we determine that any Vistaprint employee or partner had any role in this situation, we will take strong action.

  • We have communicated with all Vistaprint team members and reaffirmed our commitment to equality and diversity for all of our customers and employees.

  • We have begun to plan how we can use our global brand platform to share a message of support for same sex marriage and equality around the world.

“We have reached out to the couple to express our outrage that this incident occurred, and sadness that this in any way diminished the joy of their wedding day memories. We are hoping to establish a dialogue with them so together we can use this incident as an opportunity to shine a light on important LGBTQ issues.”

The message was likely a good start for Heasley and Borg, who told Yahoo Lifestyle, “Our goal is to hold Vistaprint accountable for the harm they have caused, to give a voice to others who may have been similarly victimized, to help prevent this from happening to someone else, and to send a message that there will be consequences for acts of hate perpetrated against others.”

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