Court Documents: Target Fears Customers Will Think It Promotes Same-Sex Marriage

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel

Of the many groups that canvass in front of its stores, the Target Corporation has singled out California grass-roots activist group Canvass For A Cause. Target is suing the group–which supports progressive issues such as same-sex marriage–for violating its solicitation policy, but court documents reveal that Target’s primary concern may be its fear of being seen as a pro-LGBT establishment.

As first reported by Ken Williams of the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, the lawsuit specifically targets CFAC, ignoring other groups who continued to canvass throughout the trial. While the suit (PDF) claims aggressive tactics by CFAC canvassers, the testimony provides no concrete evidence of such tactics—only anonymous hearsay—and focuses on the “controversial” and “sensitive” topics CFAC promotes, only mentioning one (repeatedly): gay marriage. The supporting testimony (PDF) of Daniel Brown, an Executive Team Lead for Assets Protection at the store in Poway, California, states that CFAC’s message is offensive and “too sensitive” for children (reinforcing the perception that homosexuality—and thus all who identify with it—is harmful to children):

Target has long had a good reputation in the LGBT community. Last summer, however, Target gave $150,000 to support anti-gay Republican candidate Tom Emmer in Minnesota. Despite apologizing, Target didn’t compensate for the donation and continued to contribute to right-wing, anti-gay candidates.

More recently, Lady Gaga had brokered a deal with Target that would have allowed the store to sell her new album exclusively in return for the corporation “making amends” with the LGBT community by affiliating with pro-LGBT charities and ending support for anti-gay groups. But Gaga dissolved the deal because “she and Target didn’t see eye to eye on Target’s policy of political donations and how they affect the LGBT community.”