EXCLUSIVE: LGBT Weekly Behind the Scenes at Poway, Calif. Target Store as Canvass for a Cause petitions for Gay MarriageAround the City, Breaking News, Online Only Friday, March 25th, 2011
TARGET NOW SUING FOR “ANGRY AND AGGRESSIVE” BEHAVIOR
Earlier this month, LGBT Weekly was on-site at a Poway, Calif. Target store as a group of LGBT grassroots petitioners called Canvass for Cause (CFAC) were parked outside the retailer’s doors, clipboards in hand, asking shoppers to sign in support of gay marriage.
Petitioners were so polite and hassle-free, it seemed as if they were there on behalf of Target Corp., perhaps as a publicity stunt in order to rectify the retailer’s soiled reputation as an anti-gay retailer. Later, we tweeted about the happenings at Target, just moments after Lady Gaga announced she would rescind her deal with the retail giant based on Target’s alleged affiliations with anti-gay groups.
But now, a San Diego Superior Court judge will hear arguments from the corporate giant on whether or not the petitioners should be prevented from canvassing outside Target stores. Turns out, the pro-LGBT petitioners have no affiliation with the mega-retailer and are now being accused of violating Target’s no-solicitation policy.
Target Corp. said the canvassers exhibited “angry and aggressive” behavior toward shoppers at the Poway, Calif. Target store. But LGBT Weekly was there—and “angry and aggressive” behavior was nowhere to be found. CFAC had no knowledge of our presence while they politely petitioned shoppers exiting the Poway Target store.
As Target moves forward with their legal action against CFAC, they may be furthering their reputation as an anti-gay retailer.
But, Target defends their actions. In a statement to the press, a Target representative said, “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.”
But how will these accusations affect the CFAC’s freedom of speech rights?
Bryan Pease, legal counsel for the CFAC wrote in a statement, “canvassers employed by CFAC are trained to never follow people or get in anyone’s way, not only because doing so is illegal and wrong, but because it would be counter-productive to their efforts as a community outreach organization.”
EXCLUSIVE: LGBT Weekly Behind the Scenes
LGBT Weekly was on-site, and we can confirm there were no ill-feelings from CFAC when shoppers said “no” to signing a petition in support of gay marriage – in fact, the young, 20-something petitioners responded, “No problem” and carried on to the next exiting shopper. The canvassers had no knowledge of our presence as our reporter entered and exited the store only once as an average Target shopper.
There was no aggressive or angry behavior in any way whatsoever—not from the canvassers or shoppers alike. Many of the shoppers were happy to stop and sign their petition.
“It’s very David vs. Goliath,” says CFAC executive director Tres Watson. “We understand they’re the Goliath in the room. [Target has] all money in world to get us to stop talking about gay marriage.”
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