“The pamphlets [were] plainly sent to threaten and attack Mr. Heasley and Mr. Borg because they are gay.”
Your wedding is a big day, so it’s only natural to be nervous: Maybe the photographer doesn’t show up, or your brother forgets the rings. Programs that compare your relationship to the Devil’s temptation? Not even a Bridezilla could predict that.
But that’s just what happened to a gay couple who got married in rural Pennsylvania last September.
Stephen Heasley, 39, and Andrew Borg, 31, had ordered 100 blue-and-gold programs from Vistaprint for their hilltop ceremony. In addition to the order of events, and names of the wedding party, they asked that the lyrics from their processional, “Treasure” by Above and Beyond, be included. (The guys got engaged at an Above and Beyond concert.)
But when they opened the box, according to court papers, they instead discovered Vistaprint shipped them “approximately 80 copies of a discriminatory pamphlet entitled Understanding Temptation: Fight the Good Fight of the Faith.”
According to court papers, “The pamphlets—plainly sent to threaten and attack Mr. Heasley and Mr. Borg because they are gay—warned that ‘Satan entices your flesh with evil desires.’”
“Satan knows our flesh is weak,” they continued. “He preys upon our weaknesses to tempt us to sin. Satan can only influence us to want to sin. He cannot make us sin.”
In a federal lawssuit, the couple allege they “were both emotionally devastated by Vistaprint’s intimidating and discriminatory conduct.”
“At first we thought it was simply a mistake, and we had accidentally received someone else’s order,” they told Yahoo Lifestyle. “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 wording and imagery was aggressive, threatening, and deeply personally offensive.”
They were also concerned that whomever sent the altered package had their address. ”If ill-intentioned people decided to target our wedding and guests, we would have very few options to escape or seek shelter.”
The couple, who had to order replacement programs at their own expense, are suing for unspecified damages. “Our goal is to hold Vistaprint accountable for the harm they have caused,” they say, “and to send a message that there will be consequences for acts of hate perpetrated against others.”
Attorney Michael J. Willemin, who is representing them, called the case “a particularly egregious example of a company refusing to provide equal services to members of the LBGTQ community.”
In a statement, Vistaprint insisted it would “never discriminate against customers for their sexual orientation” and claimed it has launched an internal investigation.
“We pride ourselves on being a company that celebrates diversity and enables customers all over the world to customize products for their special events,” it continued. “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.”
Founded in 1999 in the Netherlands, Vistaprint employs more than 5,100 employees worldwide. It targets small orders’ like Borg and Heasley’s, which bigger companies would take a loss on. Much of the process is automated, so it’s not clear where or when the order was altered.
Heasley is originally from Butler County, where the wedding took place, but lives with Borg in Sydney. Marriage equality just passed in Australia in December, with the first ceremonies taking place earlier this month.