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US retailer Target sues gay rights group

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  1. If Fred Phelps can picket funerals in the US, I can’t see why there would be any reason to stop this expression of free speech.

  2. I Target want to set themselves up for ongoing hassle and alienating a large portion of the market then they should press ahead with the legal action.

    If they want to enhance their reputation and avoid costly legal battles and reputational damage they should sit down with these people and come to some agreements.

    Even if they win the court battle now, they will find they become public enemy #1 for the gay community and ultimately they will suffer for it. If they can’t see that, then they deserve everything they get.

  3. To me the important word in the report is that the campaigning was *outside* the stores …

    Therefore, whilst near the Target locations not within their buildings etc …

    Despite some very good examples of supporting LGBT rights – this action and their practice of funding anti-gay politicians seems to undermine all the good work they have done and suggests they were merely window dressing rather than actually acting on LGBT rights issues out of a sense of responsibility or desire to ensure equality

    David vs Goliath it certainly appears to be – but if the WBC can protest at funerals or elsewhere – then LGBT members should be able to campaign too

  4. I have practically given up on helping the gay rights movement because it refuses to recognize WHAT IT’S UP AGAINST, and to recognize how fanatically determined the anti-gay are to destroy gay families and the lives of the children in those families.

    Here, a group is actually getting out there and refusing to budge and doing something very, very clever. THIS should get every ounce of support from the pro-gay, after so many disastrous failures in Maryland and elsewhere.

    1. Not quite sure what your point is adx.

      There is an element of despair with the gay rights movement and almost a sense of believing the gay rights movement are doomed to failure.

      Then there is a sense of supporting the acts of the gay rights group mentioned in this article etc etc

      Where do you stand?

      Regardless of failures in the past, one thing I am sure of being defeatist will not advance the pro gay rights cause one jot

  5. How homophobic. So hate speech (Westboro Baptist) at or near a funeral is OK but this is not OK in the US? How twisted.

  6. Galadriel1010 25 Mar 2011, 2:07pm

    If Target wins then we know that money has bought their victory. After the recent case against the WBC Target should have no hope.

  7. Jock S. Trap 25 Mar 2011, 2:19pm

    No surprise then. Of course bigots are going to complain it’s all they do do.

    Target have no interest in helping Gay rights it’s more about self-interest and media promotion.

    1. @Jock S Trap

      Sadly, that appears to be correct.

      It did initially look as though Target were genuinely supportive of LGBT rights but this action coupled with their donations to anti-gay politicians demonstrate the truth (in my eyes).

      I do hope, that this will not demotivate those seeking to advance LGBT rights or any commercial organisation seeking to demonstrate they have an ethical stance that is supportive of rights of individuals.

      Regardless, this action by Target is wrong and needs to be condemned and confronted. The way that Canvass for a Cause appear to be approaching this is confrontational whilst respectful and advances the LGBT cause significantly. It will be a travesty of natural justice if Target were to win their legal action.

  8. MadMtnScot 25 Mar 2011, 2:19pm

    Target already recognizes same sex partners. They give money to gay causes. They also give money to other causes. Customers are complaining about gay activists at their stores. Target has a right to remove any group that is causing problems with their business. I don’t see this as anti-gay, just Target trying to get people who are causing problems away from their stores. This is private property, not a public cemetery where religious sickos are harassing military funerals – no comparison. Free Speech is protected in public areas, and certainly can legally be restricted on private property.

    1. If Target sued the civil rights movement of any other “minority” because it offended the delicate sensibilities of its customers, it would – quite rightly – be considered a PR disaster. That Target have taken this action is a wholesale endorsement of discrimination and shows the depth of contempt it has for the gay population at large.

      As the story states, shopping centres are, by law, considered “public places where freedom of speech is protected”. Therefore, Canvass For A Cause is simply exercising its democratic right to protest. Because volunteers have been trained to be polite and professional, Target shoppers should have no cause for genuine complaint.

      The legal procedure is anti-gay because “dozens” of customers are actively using Target’s complaints procedure to attack the gay rights movement, albeit indirectly. Passively utilising the resources of a multi-billion dollar corporation to deny us equal rights is the very definition of “anti-gay”.

      1. @Paolo

        Absolutely, this legal action is both a PR disaster for Target and endorsement of discrimination.

        The story reported here and in other news outlets makes it perfectly clear that the protests have been seen to take place outside the stores in public spaces – there is a clear right to freedom of speech in public spaces. Now, I am no expert in American law but I would contend that there is freedom of speech as part of the rights granted by the American constitution whether the individual is in a public or a private location. Of course, Target could ask people to leave their stores if they did not want them there – but they could not silence them. However, the protests are in a public place and thus legal action seems bizarre.

        My understanding (and I may be wrong) is that Canvass for a Cause is a committed but non-aggressive campaigning group who are polite and professional. The likelihood of people having a genuine complaint is remote, unless politically motivated.

    2. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2011, 8:40am


      But we know they only wanted to remove because the group were collecting signatures For marriage Equality. If a group had been collecting signatures Against marriage Equailty it would have been a very different story. State what you want and don’t want sure but be consistent and fair for all not for what you agree with alone. That mocks Freedom of Speech/Expression.

      Least we’re not That bad here in the UK.

      1. Yes, you are wrong! Here is a great example of “Canvas for a cause” in action inside the Target store. Would you allow them to stay at your business? FYI Target stores do not allow solicitation of any kind ever! This is how CFAC thanks Target for supporting them for years!

        1. The problem is Target have no right to deny access and campaigning in a public place – they are a major shopping outlet – externally is public

          Freedom of Speech per California law is clear

          Target is wrong

    3. Oh, I am so crying for the haters–not. Maybe if they didn’t donate to anti-gay causes, there wouldn’t be the picketing. So don’t really care that the little heterosupremists are upset that their litle fantasy world has been disturbed by the big, bad gays.

      1. Link was deleted. Check out youtube… Bigotry special at Target, submitted by alan bounville

    4. How naive can one possibly be?! Canvas For A Cause was gathering signatures for a petition, NOT demonstrating and they were doing so on the public sidewalk outside the store. There was NO protest and no one entered the (private) store – it was simply someone with a clipboard politely asking people to sign a petition.

      Do you think for one moment Target would have bought some Jewish or African- American or… say, handicapped individuals or any other minority group to court if they did the exact same thing Canvas For A Cause did? No – they would not! It’s open season on the gays and the Conservatives aren’t holding anything back. They are unrelenting.

      Don’t you realize the levels of Intolerance and Violence against LGBTs is rising exponentially? The Radical Right is using us as a way to motivate the right and get them out to vote (against their own interests as well but that’s a story for another time).

      The Republicans are masters at twisting all situations – Free speech, Hah..

  9. Good action but organising a widespread boycott is probably most effective. Hurt them in the wallet.

    1. @Riondo

      Think Target needs sophisticated campaign given its backers and who it supports

      A significant part of that should be a widespread boycott … but I think pressure through campaign, petitions such as Canvass for a Cause are currently doing and other publicity is integral to ensuring Target are exposed

  10. Lucio Buffone 25 Mar 2011, 3:35pm

    Oh Target, how can you be so stupid?! If you win, you lose, and if you lose, you lose. It’s PR school lesson 1, semester 1. Mon the gays!!

  11. If it is on public property, the protestors can do/say what they want. That is why the WBC is allowed to protest, and that is why anti-abortion protestors can stand outside clinics. So long as the protest makes no attempt to block the sidewalk (and a few other minor rules I can’t recall off the top of my head) then the protest is illegal and stopping them is a breach of their 1st Amendment rights.

    Now the article on PN is suggesting that the protests are on public property. I have read sources elsewhere that suggest that the protests are outside the shop, but still on Target property (I imagine Asda or Tesco would have a fit if someone set up a protest for any reason in one of their car parks).

    Cusp of the suit is probably what constitutes public space and what doesn’t. The content of the protest is almost certainly irrelevant in law.

    1. **sigh** missed a “not” out. Protesting is not illegal so long as sidewalks are kept reasonably clear.

  12. John Thomas 25 Mar 2011, 4:31pm

    they are not protesting!But are Canvass For A Cause, which asks people to sign gay marriage petitions! that’s like any other group that ask for people to sign thier cuase, IE. school petitions, animale rights petitions, and all the many many other groups that are out thier asking for you to sing for thier cuase. it happens at every store, IE.Wallmart, cosco. If they ask one groupe to stop they would have to ask all groups to stop!

    1. One report in a LA paper suggests there were 12 complaints to Target from customers about Canvass for a cause – big deal …!

      1. Jock S. Trap 26 Mar 2011, 8:41am

        Lets face it the only people that did complain were religious Nutjobs.

        1. Definitely. They complain about everything that is positive in our lives and then scream “persecution!” when we call them on their nonsense.

          1. Their argument whilst certainly not fair, doesnt seem to hold any legal strength either ..

            Makes me wonder if they know this and are hoping to lose so that it ignites a powderkeg of agitation in the religious right in the US at a time when we are beginning to win some of the battles about marriage etc

  13. The majority of republicans being anti gay it was 50/50 is to who they supported. Does seem to be doing its bit in the diversity rankings and benefits for same-sex couples. Are these people demonstrating outside the senators house and the root of the evil?

  14. “Target voluntarily pays benefits to same sex partners, despite no federal requirements to do so.”
    True – they provide domestic partnership coverage on their insurance, health insurance, and other plans. Those benefits, however, are TAXABLE (but not for married straights). Companies such as Google and Yahoo compensate their same-sex partnered employees with additional money to cover this inequity.
    Believe me, Target is doing no one any favors – and will continue with CYA manuevers until there IS a federal employment non-discrimination act in force.

    1. @Reed B

      I dont know the details of that – so you have provided me with new information. What I do know is Target has tried to present itself as LGBT friendly but this legal action and the political donations were enough for me to feel they are a bigoted organisation – your information (which I have no reason to doubt) makes me feel even more significantly that Target has no understanding, whatsoever, of what equality means – nor does it appear to understand PR!!!

  15. What this article fails to mention is that Target has a very high “No Solicitation” policy. Target has also never allowed groups such as “Salvation Army” to solicit outside of their store fronts. There is no reason that JUST because the group is a Gay Right group that they should be able to go against Target’s POLICIES while other groups COMPLY with Targets wishes on it’s property.

    1. @Laura

      If this was within Target stores or their property you would have a point

      The situation is that these people are peacefully and appropriately protesting in a public place – as influential as Target may like to believe that it is, it does not own pavements!

  16. Let’s be clear on this. Target are suing this group because they are a gay group.

    The GIrl Scouts and veteran;s groups are not being sued, even though they too campaign outside Target stores.

    Target sucks. And Gay Uncle Toms like Ricky Martin who work for them should be ashamed.

  17. Have Target ever sued any group for campaigning outside their stores? I doubt it. I expect there are some religious fundies stirring up the complaints to further their own bigoted agenda.

  18. there’s only 1 way out 4 target. make sure your not supporting anti-gay individuals.

  19. friday jones 25 Mar 2011, 9:58pm

    Yes, Target sued the Salvation Army for soliciting on their property against company policy, actually. It was in all the papers.

    1. If the Salvation Army were evangelizing then that may be seen as harassing

      In a 1979 judgement in courts in California it was deemed that shopping malls and major shopping buildings were public places and that as they were public places then political discourse must be allowed to occur under the rights of freedom of speech.

      All of the San Diego shops involved are part of major shopping complexes – not sure Target is going to be able to substantiate that these locations are anything other than a public place given the legal precedent and particularly given the recent WBC ruling

      Furthermore, if I was to be outside of a Target store and began a random conversation with a passer by as I was finishing a drink prior to going shopping in Target, for arguments sake about military action in Libya – the logical extension of Targets claim that it can withdraw the right of free speech due to their view that this is not a public place means they must believe they could prevent me debating it

      1. I am sure Target have no right to dictate what I can or can not talk about with someone in a consensual conversation in a place where we freely met ie outside a shop where the public are invited to frequent

  20. Stop shopping all stores that are not LGBT friendly and give support to all LGBT groups who and fight for out rights around the world.

  21. l.MITCHELL 26 Mar 2011, 5:12am

    If the hate group,(WBC) can protest at fallen military funerals, (upheld by the Supreme court) then target does not have a leg to stand on.There are always going to be racist in the world and they can sugar coat it how ever they want. BUT THEY ARE STILL RACIST!!!!

  22. These people were telling folks to boycott Target!!! Why shouldn’t they be made to leave? You can pretend all you like.

    Check out the youtube video “Bigotry special at Target”. Submitted by alan Bounville.

    Should they be allowed to stay while telling customers that Target is sh**ty and they should boycott? It is a business not a public square!!! They are lucky if they were not arrested!

    1. If Target does not own the land outside it’s shops, then it has absolutely zero right to bar this group.

      Target is a bigotted organisation.

      They deserve all the bad press they have received since their donation to extremist bigot Tom Emmer was revealed.

  23. jckfmsincty 27 Mar 2011, 4:24am

    If you support human rights, ban Target

  24. jckfmsincty 27 Mar 2011, 2:44pm

    It’s simple. Boycott Target. I do.

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