(SAN DIEGO) -- Eight months after sparking a national firestorm over donations in support of a political candidate who opposed gay rights, Target Corp. once again is raising the ire of the gay and lesbian community by suing a California advocacy group that has been lobbying for same-sex marriage outside its stores.
The company wants to ban activists with the grassroots group Canvass for a Cause from its properties, saying their recent activities at eight San Diego-area stores have made customers feel uncomfortable and could be hurting business. Lawyers for Canvass for a Cause have argued in court filings that store fronts and shopping centers are part of the public square, where free speech ought to be protected.
A judge in San Diego County Superior Court heard arguments in the case Friday and is expected to issue a ruling on the restraining order late next week.
Target wants to preserve a "distraction-free shopping experience" and has consistently taken legal action against groups which infringe on that experience, regardless of their viewpoint or affiliation. But Watson said the suit in just the latest example of how Target has broken with its record of supporting gay and lesbian community groups in the past.
Last year, Target triggered outrage among some employees, customers and interest groups for a $150,000 contribution supporting Republican Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who opposed same-sex marriage and greater legal protections for gays and lesbians. Emmer ultimately lost to Democrat Mark Dayton.
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