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Target, Gay Group Face Off

Target, Gay Group Face Off

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A San Diego superior court judge will hear arguments Friday as to whether a local LGBT grassroots group should be prevented from canvassing in front of a Target store, San Diego Gay and Lesbian Newsreports.

In court documents, Target Corp. has alleged that the group, Canvass for a Cause, violates the retailer's no-solicitation policy and has exhibited "angry and aggressive" behavior toward shoppers outside a Target store in Poway, near San Diego.

In a statement to the Associated 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 attorney Bryan Pease, representing Canvass for a Cause, wrote in a brief to the court that municipal code exempts the free speech activity of canvassers from the "prohibition against trespassing in areas that are open to the public."

Moreover, he wrote, "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."

"It's very David versus Goliath," Canvass for a Cause executive director Tres Watson told NPR. "We understand they're the Goliath in the room. They've got all money in world to get us to stop talking about gay marriage."

Earlier this month a San Diego superior court judge ruled that the right of free speech takes priority over Target's interests, refusing to temporarily remove the group pending trial.

In a statement to The Advocate, a spokesperson for Target wrote, "In response to feedback from many guests, Target long ago established a solicitation policy at our stores nationwide. To provide a distraction-free shopping environment for our guests, we do not permit solicitation or petitioning at our stores regardless of the cause or issue being represented. Target actively and consistently enforces its solicitation policy and, if necessary, takes legal action against solicitors who do not comply with requests to cease their activity. 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. Target has taken similar action against a number of organizations that represent a wide variety of causes and issues."

Read the SDGLN story here.

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