January 20, 2012 Kate Post Executive Director Stockton Asparagus Festival 343 E.

Main Street 10th Floor, Suite B Stockton, CA 95202 kate@asparagusfest.com Re: Stockton Asparagus Festival’s Refusal to Rent a Vendor’s Booth to the San Joaquin Valley Coalition of Reason in Violation of the Unruh Act

Ms. Post: I am writing regarding the decision of the Stockton Asparagus Festival (the “Festival”) to refuse to allow the San Joaquin Valley Coalition of Reason (the “Coalition”) to rent a vendor’s booth at the Festival. As you know, on February 25, 2011, David Diskin, a member of the Coalition, emailed you, as the Festival’s executive director, to apply for a vendor’s booth at the 2011 Festival. Diskin was put in touch with Suzi DeSilva, the booth coordinator, whom he asked about non-profit rate for vendors. After not receiving a response, Diskin followed-up with DeSilva and was told that he should apply right away because “space [was] nearly gone.” Diskin faxed the Coalition’s application to DeSilva later that day, but was told that the Coalition’s application had been denied because the Festival no longer had space for non-profits. Despite offering to pay the commercial rate, Kate Post told Diskin that the Coalition was “too controversial” and that the Festival would not deal with the Coalition, adding “I’ve seen your website. You hate God.” Diskin again contacted the Festival in October 2011 and January 2012 in hopes of renting a booth at the 2012 Festival, but the Festival still refused to do business with the Coalition, stating that “our position has not changed.” California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act1 (the “Act”) prohibits a business establishment such as the Festival from discriminating on the basis of religious views. Specifically, Section 51.5 of the
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California Civil Code Section 51 states that “[a]ll persons [in] . . . this State are free and equal, and no matter what their race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”

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Act makes it illegal for a business “of any kind whatsoever . . . [to] discriminate against, . . . or refuse to . . . contract with [or] sell to any person” because of their religious views. Because the Festival leases vendor booths and sells admission tickets to the general public, it is clearly a “business establishment” under the Act.2 The Supreme Court of California has ruled that courts must interpret the term “business establishment” in the Act “in the broadest sense reasonably possible.” O’Connor v. Village Green, 33 Cal.3d 790, 795 (1983). It applies to nonprofit corporations such as the Festival. Id. The Festival’s past practice show that it does not exclude other religious exhibitors that some may consider controversial, such as the First Baptist Church, Kingdom Culture Ministries, the Legion of Mary and a psychic and palm and tarot card reader, all of whom were leased exhibit space at the 2011 Festival. It is clear that the Coalition’s application was instead rejected because you, as executive director of the Festival, dislike the Coalition’s atheist religious beliefs. The Festival cannot lawfully accept or reject vendor applications on this discriminatory basis. Under the Act, the Coalition may bring suit to obtain an injunction to require you to stop discriminating against it and to lease it space. The Act also provides for the recovery of damages and attorney’s fees. If you would like to avoid litigation, please contact me immediately and indicate that you will lease commercial exhibit space to the Coalition as the Act requires. Sincerely, /s/ William J. Burgess William J. Burgess Appignani Humanist Legal Center American Humanist Association

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The Supreme Court of California has ruled that courts must interpret the term “business establishment” in the Act “in the broadest sense reasonably possible.” O’Connor v. Village Green, 33 Cal.3d 790, 795 (1983).

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