Judge Rules Gay Rights Group Can Picket Target Stores
An advocacy group can continue to gather signatures in support of gay marriage outside Target stores but must maintain a distance of 30 feet from store entrances, a judge has ruled.
The retail giant filed an injunction to prevent the group Canvass for a Cause from picketing outside stores, however a California Superior Court judge in San Diego County denied the injunction on Thursday saying that there was no evidence petition gatherers were being hostile toward customers as Target had claimed.
However, the judge also stipulated that campaigners should refrain from such conduct or Target would be well within its rights to remove them. The judge also said that campaigners must keep a distance of 30 feet from store entrances so that shoppers are not impeded from entering or existing Target stores.
The group can only canvas one store entrance at any given time so customers’ access to the store isn’t impeded, the judge ruled. Also, group members are not allowed to “harass, follow, stalk, or block movements of Target’s employees, management or customers.”
“Target was denied a restraining order against Canvass for a Cause, citing there was no evidence volunteers were threatening or harassing! This is a win,” the San Diego group said on its website.
The group began picketing Target after the corporation donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a organization that supported the failed gubernatorial campaign of Republican Tom Emmer, who opposes same-sex marriage.
Target attempted to prevent campaign group Canvass for a Cause from gathering petition signatures in support of marriage equality outside its stores by citing its non-solicitation policy and that people might believe Target supported gay marriage and that, in turn, this belief could harm business.
Target also alleged the group was harassing customers, but even though police had been called to remove Canvass for a Cause petition gatherers, officers refused to do so saying that there was no evidence of customers being harassed and that the group was within its rights to picket Target in this way.
That they have harassed customers is a charge Canvass for a Cause have always denied, saying Target has unfairly targeted them simply because of the marriage equality issue, and also that Target has selectively applied its non-solicitation policy for years and should not be allowed to hide behind that policy in order to infringe the group’s right to free speech.
You can read more about the beginnings of this case here.
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