Metro Weekly

Gay couple suing Vistaprint for allegedly delivering homophobic pamphlets

Andrew Borg and Stephen Heasley claim their wedding programs were replaced with anti-gay materials

Andrew Borg and Stephen Heasley — Photo: Courtesy of couple via Yahoo Lifestyle

A gay couple are suing Vistaprint after receiving a box filled with homophobic pamphlets.

Stephen Heasley, 31, and Andrew Borg, 39, received a package last September, which they assumed contained programs for their wedding the next day in rural Pennsylvania.

Instead, they received anti-gay paraphernalia telling them “Satan entices your flesh with evil desires.”

Now the couple, who live in Australia, have filed a lawsuit with Massachusetts-based Vistaprint for breaching contract and emotional pain.

“At first we thought it was simply a mistake, and we had accidentally received someone else’s order,” the couple told Yahoo Lifestyle via email. “Once we saw the images and actually read a bit of the pamphlet, we quickly realized this wasn’t a simple or innocent error.”

“Both of our initial reactions were ones of shock,” they continued. “The wording and imagery was aggressive, threatening, and deeply personally offensive.”

The pamphlets contained religion-fueled homophobia, with lines such as, “Satan knows our flesh is weak. He preys upon our weaknesses to tempt us to sin. Satan can only influence us to want to sin. He cannot make us sin.”

“This was by far the most direct, personal, and aggressive act of homophobia either of us has experienced to date,” the couple said.

Heasley and Borg, who apparently haven’t contacted Vistaprint since the pamphlets arrived, decided to sue because they want to “hold Vistaprint accountable” for the hurt that they caused.

“After four months of being married, the pain from those memories has not faded,” Heasley said. “Andrew describes his hurt as though feeling like someone has completely robbed him of what would have turned out to be nothing short of a brilliant wedding.”

Vistaprint told Yahoo Lifestyle that they would “never discriminate against customers for their sexual orientation. We pride ourselves on being a company that celebrates diversity and enables customers all over the world to customize products for their special events.”

The spokesperson added that the company understood “how upsetting it would be for anyone to receive materials such as these the night before their wedding” and has launched an investigation.

In an open letter shared with Metro Weekly, Trynka Shineman, CEO of Vistaprint, and Robert Keane, the company’s founder, reiterated how “incredibly saddened” they were at the news of Borg and Heasley’s story.

The full letter:

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.

This article was updated to include Shineman and Keane’s letter.

[ninja-inline id=73197]

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!

Leave a Comment: