UPDATE: Vistaprint has responded with an open letter. You can read that below.
Andrew Borg and Stephen Heasley were preparing for one of the happiest days in their lives — their wedding. They ordered the wedding programs from the popular online printing house Vistaprint. But when they opened the box from Vistaprint homophobic pamphlets is what they saw.
Borg and Heasley paid $79.49 for wedding programs they never received. They expected to receive this:
But instead, they got this:
The Vistaprint homophobic pamphlet is titled Battle Ready: Understanding Temptation and subtitled Fight the Good Fight of the Faith. The pamphlet included phrases like “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.”
According to the couple’s lawyers, though the pamphlet itself makes no explicit reference to homosexuality, they feel it was intended as an attack and judgment of their lifestyle. And given the tenor of similar pamphlets, we can see where they’d come to that conclusion.
Borg and Heasley had to spend more money to get the correct programs printed — though not through Vistaprint. Rather, they’re suing the Massachusetts based printer, as well as the “John Doe” who was responsible for breach of contract and emotional pain. They’re suing for unspecified damages.
Heasley remarked that though the wedding went ahead as planned, there was still an atmosphere of fear. He said:
We realized that whoever had sent this had our personal addresses. We were getting married on a family farm in what we understand to be a fairly conservative and rural part of Pennsylvania. If ill-intentioned people decided to target our wedding and guests, we would have very few options to escape or seek shelter.
Sara Nash, a spokesperson for Vistaprint, said:
Vistaprint 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.
We have just been made aware of this incident in the last few hours. We understand how upsetting it would be for anyone to receive materials such as these the night before their wedding and we have immediately launched an internal investigation. Until we have had the opportunity to complete our investigation, we cannot comment further.
An open letter from Vistaprint about the Vistaprint homophobic allegations
On Jan. 17, Vistaprint responded in further depth with an open letter:
To our customers and partners worldwide –
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.
Trynka Shineman, CEO, Vistaprint
Robert Keane, CEO, Cimpress and Vistaprint’s founder
Featured image courtesy of Andrew Borg and Stephen Heasley