Vistaprint CEO feels ‘empathy and sadness’ over religious pamphlets sent to gay couple
The chief executive of Vistaprint said Wednesday evening that she was dismayed to learn that her company had sent religious pamphlets that offended two men expecting programs for their same-sex wedding, and she pledged to do all she could to “make it right” for the couple.
The Dutch custom printing company, which has its US headquarters in Lexington, is working on damage control as it tries to figure out what went wrong.
Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg, who received the pamphlets in place of the programs on the eve of their Pennsylvania wedding last year, have sued the company in federal court for Massachusetts , arguing that the delivery was intended “to threaten and attack” them.
Chief executive Trynka Shineman said in an interview that she feels “empathy and sadness” for Heasley and Borg.
“You think about a couple who is waiting for their programs the day before their wedding — and the anticipation and the excitement that they feel — only to receive something so unexpected,” she said. “It created anxiety and disappointment around what was supposed to be a very celebratory event.”
Shineman said Vistaprint is in the process of evaluating the failure that led to the mailing. The company said late Wednesday that it had determined that a contractor had sent pamphlets intended for another customer to Healsey and Borg.
She said the company has stopped printing at the factory where the problem originated, and it will take forceful steps if it finds out that anybody acted deliberately to send the wrong products to Heasley and Borg.
Shineman said she found out about the problem through a media organization reporting on the lawsuit Tuesday.
The religious document reproduced in the court file does not specifically discuss same-sex marriage. It broadly discusses temptation, sin, and uses language such as, “Satan entices your flesh with evil desires.”
Vistaprint said it does not discriminate against people for their religious views, but it also acknowledged how Heasley and Borg would have felt as they received such a message in that context.
Shineman said Vistaprint would have never wanted to make the couple feel threatened or minimized.
“People feel terrible about this,” she said. “This is so not aligned with who we are as a company.”