Alex Blaze

Target to Same-Sex Marriage Group: Get Off My Property!

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 10, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, canvass for a cause, LGBT, marriage, Prop. 8, Target

I didn't know Target was involved in a suit against Canvass for a Cause, a group collecting signatures to petition-signer.jpglegalize same-sex marriage by ballot initiative in California. Target is mad that they're collecting signatures outside Target stores and tried to get a restraining order against them while going into trial.

I'm not really clear on whether they're talking about canvassers working on Target property or on public land outside Target stores. Target's motion for a restraining order didn't limit itself to property that they own (it includes property they "control" and "operate"). And their incident reports sometimes say the canvassers were on Target property and sometimes cite the local penal code to tell them not to block the sidewalk, but mostly they don't specify whether the canvassers were on private property or not.

My guess is that if they actually owned this property they would have already called police on the canvassers and the restraining order would have been granted instead of rejected because "the right of free speech trumps over the business interests of Target," but I'm not sure.

What's interesting about this suit, other than the clear viewpoint discrimination Target is requesting (Target says they're only concerned that the canvassers are fundraising at the same time, but I have seen the Salvation Army aggressively soliciting with their non-stop bell-ringing in front of Targets), is a few of the prize quotes from Target's briefs. Like that they're worried people will think they're pro-gay:

"Some guests have told us that they are offended by the controversial pro-gay marriage messaging of the solicitors, and that they assume Target promotes the same view. One solicitor said that he will do everything he can to ensure that his friends and family also do not shop at Target anymore. One guest informed us that they were going to return everything they have bought because they were offended by the group. Many mothers with children have complained about the sensitive nature of the solicitors' messaging," Brown said in the document.

Now here I thought Target was pro-gay and always has been since it has been saying that repeatedly regarding their political contributions (which haven't stopped going to anti-gay candidates). Now why would they be arguing in court that it hurts their image to be seen as pro same-sex marriage if that's the sort of image they're trying to cultivate? It's not like they're trying to remain neutral on the institution of marriage, gay and straight, considering how they unabashedly promote opposite-sex marriage.

And this was funny:

In another document filed in court today, Target's attorneys noted that customer complaints about CFAC were "averaging eight-to-ten at one store with as many as twenty" at another store by people who felt "harassed ... intimidated, unsafe, or who were offended by Canvass for a Cause's political messaging."

I'd believe that. But then the sort of people who would complain about that are the same sort of people who feel "unsafe" when they stumble on And Tango Makes Three at the public library. Unless they've caught Canvass for a Cause volunteers brandishing weapons, following people home, or making threats, I'd take their complaints with a grain of salt.

The reason Target filed this suit is because this is LGBT advocacy. Even if it is private property or if Target has the right to exclude others from this land for some reason, they're still the ones who chose to allow the Salvation Army on their private property but not a same-sex marriage petition.

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So they get 8-10 complaints per store. Not per day. Per store.

How many shoppers go through there in a day? Over 1000 I'm going to guess. Probably more like 5k or more in a busy store. Now multiply that by 30 for a month.

And they got 8-10 complaints and are taking it to court.

Fuck them.

Charlie Rounds | March 10, 2011 10:58 AM

My husband and I have not shopped at Target for years and probably never will again - but please note that Target does NOT allow the Salvation army to ring nor have they since 2004. They were heavily criticized in 2004 by the Evangelicals for doing so.

http://sites.target.com/site/en/company/page.jsp?contentId=WCMP04-045090

They don't allow solicitors, petitioners, or Salvation Army bell-ringers.

They do "proudly support" the Salvation Army though.

They may not allow the bell-ringers, but I've seen them in front of the Target in Westfield, Indiana. Maybe the employees just didn't know that the dude with a big bell shouting "Merry Christmas" at everyone was soliciting.

That's mentioned in Canvass for a Cause's response - there were plenty of other groups soliciting there.

Patricia Harlow Patricia Harlow | March 25, 2011 1:15 PM

I've seen Bell Ringers directly in front of Target in Austin, TX as well. No more than 15 feet from the Entrance.

Apparently, it's not an enforced policy.

Rick Sutton | March 10, 2011 2:20 PM

So they don't allow any solicitors. I get it. The leased/owned land difference is miniscule, Bil--lawsuits, if filed, name tenants as well as landlords.

If their policy is uniform, and not carried out against these petitioners harshly or discriminatorily, it's OK.

One of the problems with these big-box stores is that their asphalt parking fields are so huge, if you stand on public land, you've got to pack a lunch to get to the front door.

I stopped shopping there when their execs formed a PAC and started donating to hateful groups. By all reasonabel measure, they've cleaned up their act on that front; I'm not sure how contrite they are. The results are conflicting, so I still don't shop there.

My mega-millions don't darken their door. They will survive.

They've been so good to gay and gay-friendly suppliers, and to their gay employees--they were the first to feature moderately-priced clothing designed by gay desigenrs...but they sometimes stumble over their own, uh,egos.

If you read the complaints, there were several that were clearly on public land. I'm wondering if their definitions of "controlled" and "operated" include land that is neither owned nor leased by them.

But don't forget, HRC still loves Target (check their gay-friendly business list.).

I operate a local chain of stores in PHL. We get solicitors outside our door all day long. It can be a hastle. Most of the "causes" I support but I also have business' to run and it does sometimes affect traffic flow.

However, these are not sidewalks I own. I am responsible for their general maintenance though. ie: snow removal stuff like that. It is still city owned property and as long as the solicitors stay 3ft from my door I can not tell them to vacate.

That's PHL I couldn't speak for the rest of the country.

What I find most telling in all this is
"Some guests have told us that they are offended by the controversial pro-gay marriage messaging of the solicitors, and that they assume Target promotes the same view. One solicitor said that he will do everything he can to ensure that his friends and family also do not shop at Target anymore. One guest informed us that they were going to return everything they have bought because they were offended by the group. Many mothers with children have complained about the sensitive nature of the solicitors' messaging," Brown said in the document.

I've seen solicitors outside target this last year at Xmas from Salvation Army. Both on land owned by and land not owned but operated by Target.

As for Mr. Sutton saying:
"They've been so good to gay and gay-friendly suppliers, and to their gay employees--they were the first to feature moderately-priced clothing designed by gay desigenrs...but they sometimes stumble over their own, uh,egos."
I have to disagree that this makes them "Pro-Gay, Gay friendly" or what ever. It says they know when to use the gays to raise sales and then use that money to legislate against them.

David McCain | March 11, 2011 11:44 PM

Here's one solution: just even the score. Get 8 to 10 (or more) gay/gay friendly people to go to, or phone, each of the Target stores and thank them for allowing the petitioners to collect signatures in front of their stores. If the only people Target is hearing from are the opposition, they may conclude that the negative comments represent the majority of public opinion.