BOSTON — Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg were excited to see the wedding programs they ordered for their big day. But when the package arrived, the gay couple was horrified to instead find religious pamphlets with messages about temptation and sin, according to a federal lawsuit against printing company Vistaprint.
The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Massachusetts, accuses Vistaprint of attacking the couple because they’re gay by replacing their wedding program order with the ‘‘hateful, discriminatory’’ pamphlets.
‘‘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,’’ the couple, who got married in Pennsylvania in September, said in a statement.
Vistaprint’s CEO and founder sent a letter to its customers and partners on Wednesday in response to the lawsuit, noting that company officials are ‘‘incredibly saddened’’ by the incident and have reached out to the couple to express their outrage.
Vistaprint, whose US headquarters is in Lexington, says it hopes to use the incident as an ‘‘opportunity to shine a light on important LGBTQ issues.’’
Later Wednesday, CEO Trynka Shineman said in an interview that the documents “created anxiety and disappointment around what was supposed to be a very celebratory event.”
She said a contractor had sent the items intended for another customer to Heasley and Borg. Shineman added that the company would react assertively if it learned that someone had acted intentionally.
“People feel terrible about this,” she said. “This is so not aligned with who we are as a company.”
The lawsuit says the pamphlets received by the couple on the eve of their wedding included phrases such as ‘‘fight against Satan’s temptation and pursue what is good’’ and ‘‘do not set on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.’’ The couple, who lives in Australia, says the pamphlets were designed to intimidate and threaten them.
David Gottlieb, an attorney for the couple, said they did not complain to Vistaprint at the time of their wedding because they had to scramble to print their own programs in time for the ceremony. Gottlieb said they hope that their lawsuit will bring public attention to the issue to ensure others don’t receive the same treatment.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses Vistaprint of discriminating against the couple because they’re gay and breaching a contract for not delivering the programs they ordered.
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