Karen Ocamb

Target Suing San Diego Marriage Equality Group Over Canvassing Efforts

Filed By Karen Ocamb | March 26, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, canvass for a cause, marriage, Target

There's a new wrinkle in the ongoing relationship between Target Corp. and the LGBT community.target.png According to AP, Target is suing the marriage equality group Canvass for a Cause to try to stop them from canvassing at their stores. Target, however, told AP they are still committed to LGBT rights. AP reports:

"Our legal action was in no way related to the cause of the organization and was done so to be consistent with our long-standing policy of providing a distraction-free shopping experience by not permitting solicitors at our stores," the company said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

Target says it has taken similar action against a number of organizations representing a variety of causes. It alleges in the lawsuit that the San Diego group's activists harass customers by cornering them near its stores' front entrances and debating with them about their views on gay marriage.

Canvass For A Cause director Tres Watson told AP the group cavasses at shopping malls and other large venues to educate and raise money for marriage equality and the groups' volunteers are trained on how to be professional and courteous. Shopping centers are today's public squares, he told AP. "We train our staff and volunteers very carefully in techniques in winning people over," he said. "When you're trying to persuade voters and reach out to the community with a message, there is no advantage to being aggressive."

Crossposted at LGBT POV, img Wikipedia


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As much as I hate to admit it, Target does have the legal right to stop people or groups from soliciting on their property.

It's the mirror image of last December, when supporters of the Salvation Army cried foul when when some retailers denied them bell-ringing rights. If you're going to support denying the SA's bell-ringing rights based on their beliefs, you should just as zealously defend Target's decision to not allow Canvass to solicit signatures.

I don't agree with them, but I don't have to. They have that right. On the other hand, we also have the right to express our displeasure by not giving them our money.

It's as simple as that.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | March 26, 2011 2:32 PM

I second that, Mike, although there is some First Amendment case law suggesting that certain places, like airport terminals, are special situations even though they are otherwise private property. So the precise situation may depend on the circumstances/layout at a particular Target store.

Sometimes in our rightous zeal for our cause, we tend to convince ourselves that our own proclaimed moral superiority puts us above the legal circumstances, and would differentiat between that and purveyors of message we consider morally inferior. Maybe they are, but that's not how it works.

I'm going to say that's it's in doubt whether Target has the rights to all these pieces of property. In some of the complaints they say that a store manager cited local ordinances about sidewalks (like that they can't be blocked) to try to get the petitioners to leave. And they never called the police on the petitioners, which I think they'd do if it were actually their property.

But for the most part their incident reports don't say who owned the property and their request for a restraining order went beyond the property they owned. I don't think we should just assume they own it because they're filing suit, and their petitions (at least the ones available online) don't even try to make a distinction between the property they own and the land in front of a store, in a mall, or in a parking lot that might be owned by a city.

Target does have the legal right to stop people or groups from soliciting on their property

It's not their property, or at least not in every claim. They want to keep the petition-signers out from in front of their stores whether they own that property or not.

Plus I think we have a right to question their decision to allow the Salvation Army but keep pro-gay petitioners away, whether they have a legal right to it or not.

As someone who worked for Target (distribution center) for over seven years (though not any longer)...I can verify that they do plenty to help gay rights with their zero tolerance policies towards discrimination based on orientation, as well as offering "domestic partner" benefits...something many other employers do not. Honestly, there are bigger battles to be fought than against Target as they are NOT an enemy.

Their stance on solicitors has been the same for many years now, and brought attention when they no longer allowed Salvation Army to ring their bells during the holidays in front of their doors. My point? It's just a policy that EVERYONE needs to adhere to, so let's not make this an "us against them" type of news story. (just in case anyone was trying to) ;)

The response filed by Canvass for a Cause says that there were many other petitioners that were working in front of the same Targets with no problem for various other causes. And I saw the Salvation Army in front of the Target in Westfield, Indiana, just this past winter.

Target isn't the "enemy" in the traditional sense (i.e., foaming at the mouth homophobe that's easy to caricature), but they're an immensely powerful entity in the US and they use that power in ways that hurt LGBT people and benefit LGBT people, depending on what helps their bottom line.

The point isn't whether Target is a friend or foe since they're a corporation and are neither. The point is that there's little space in the US that isn't completely controlled by corporations, and if we're trying to discuss policy matters with people there has to be some place to engage them.

And that's part of the problem - Target has touted their donations and DP benefits in response to these various scandals, but they're completely missing the point. It's not about whether they look gay-friendly in front of the cameras at the appropriate moments.

As with the other posters Target does and should have a right to stop them on their property. Also while Target didn't express support for repeal of prop 8 they carefully worded their statement so as not to cause damage to it.They aren't angels they are a corporation but this time it would seem they are right.

"They aren't angels they are a corporation"

Why don't we have a right to expect them to be angels? Corporations have enough power in the US that they should be held to some standards.

Plus they specifically said they were worried customers would think they're gay-friendly as a result of the petitioners. That sounds fairly homophobic to me for a company that's been saying it unequivocally supports gay rights.

Alright Alex since I didn't know all the information that seems to have been left out I am now in a position where my position is changed.Damn it guys it's hard for a woman to find a place they like to shop on a budget.I hate wally world and thrift stores are usually twenty years behind the times.I won't shop at Target until they have shown just reason for my return.

Wow, so many comments w/o enough info.

1) The group is/was not on Target property. They were on public property. Target didn't even call the cops - because they couldn't. It's not illegal to leaflet/protest/canvass in a public area.

2) Target does allow the Salvation Army to ring bells in front of their stores. They allow other groups to canvass too.

3) I'll admit that while I kept shopping at Target before, this latest bit of info encouraged Jerame and I to shop at the Harris Teeter this week instead of our usual Target trip.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | March 27, 2011 1:49 PM

Lest there me any misunderstanding here, I reiterate my position above that from a LEGAL standpoint the situation has to be judged (for better or for worse) by the SAME rules for everyone, friend or foe, for individual factual circumstances as to who owns what, where, and the like. That's what "equal protection under the law" means whether the the parties are LGBT individuals or LGBT friendly corporations, church-related individuals or corporations, or big mega-merhcandising individuals or corporations like Target. Period.

As to moral approval/disapproval, decisions as to whether to patronize Target or to stay away completely (except maybe when a specific bargain is sooooo tempting that we can bend or unbendable principles just a teeny bit and hope nobody sees us in the checkout line) are a different animal that the legal side.

That does seem to have gotten a bit blurred in this thread.