Sponsors of the annual Gay Pride Festival and Parade in West Hollywood filed suit Thursday against three major national weekly news magazines charging that they conspired to restrain trade by refusing the group’s advertisements for the 1985 event.
The ad was “too bold, forceful and obvious for conservative publications,” an advertising agency that handled the copy informed the group last month after getting rejections from three of four publications to which it was submitted, the Los Angeles Superior Court suit contends.
The sponsoring group, Christopher Street West, then submitted its ad directly to Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report magazines and each sent back a written confirmation of its rejection, the suit says.
According to the suit, Christopher Street West decided this year to reach beyond gay-oriented publications to advertise its forthcoming festival and parade, scheduled June 23, and contacted the Media Networks Inc. advertising agency, which is also named a defendant in the suit.
The agency told the group it might have a problem because of the “subject matter,” the suit says, but offered to place the ad, which carried the headline “Alive With Pride in ’85/ Gay Pride/It Begins With Everyone.” The ad also contained a picture of non-gay actress Rita Moreno and a quotation from her saying she always tries to defend human rights because she was discriminated against as a “Latin spitfire.”
The rejections, according to the lawsuit, were the “result of an illegal conspiracy and combination in restraint of trade . . . for the purpose of excluding . . . the gay and lesbian community as a whole from the weekly news magazine market.”
The director of corporate public affairs for Time, Louis Slovinsky, said he saw no basis for any suit because the magazine’s advertising rate card clearly states that “Time reserves the right to reject or cancel any advertisement for any reason at any time.”
A Media Networks Inc. official, division manager Peter Cobabe of San Francisco, said: “As a company we obviously have our right to reject any copy for any reason. There was never any formal agreement of any kind to even accept the ad, so I don’t see why they have a suit against us.”
Spokesmen for Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report said they could not comment on the suit because they had not seen it.
Long Beach Sued
Meanwhile, Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Inc. sued Long Beach and seven officials to obtain a permit without posting required fees for the group’s planned parade in Long Beach on June 16.
The civil suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by the American Civil Liberties Union claimed the city has attempted to charge “excessive fees to discourage, indeed prohibit, ‘unacceptable’ groups” from using public streets and parks.
Because of its “clean record” at a 1984 parade with 300 participants and only “a handful of spectators,” the suit stated, the organization had been promised it would not have to post advance fees this year. But the city is now demanding $3,034.60 for placement of barriers along the parade route, $14,000 for police costs, and a $1-million insurance policy to cover the city for any liability.