Minneapolis, MN —
Target's CEO is today defended the company's $150,000 political donation to fund anti-gay politics. Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel is telling employees of the Minnesota-based retailer that the company's support of the gay community remains "unwavering."
Target has come under fire from LGBT groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, for giving $150,000 to a right-wing political action committee (PAC) known as Minnesota Forward, which in turn bought television ads for Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.
"I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman," Emmer says on his website. "As a legislator, I have consistently supported the constitutional marriage amendment that protects traditional marriage."
Gay rights groups say it's unwise for Target to back the anti-gay Emmer, because his conservative views on abortion, gay marriage, immigration and the minimum wage could upset some Target shoppers.
Emmer has also been criticized for his association with a Christian rock band, which according to the Minnesota Independent has made statements concerning the morality of killing gays and lesbians.
"We rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda," Steinhafel said in an e-mail published by the Associated Press. "Let me be very clear, Target's support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company."
The AP also reports that Best Buy, another Minnesota-based retailer, contributed $100,000 to the conservative PAC.
Target opened its new Chicago location in the Uptown neighborhood on July 20. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Ald. Helen Shiller (46th) and openly-gay state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) were at the opening.
Rep. Harris told ChicagoPride.com on Monday that he was surprised by the news.
"This shows how important effective campaign disclosure laws are, so that we can follow the money that supports candidates who actively work against our community or who fund anti-gay ballot initiatives," said Harris. "Companies like Target need to understand that they can't have it both ways when it comes to issues of our basic rights, and that the facts will eventually come out. I hope that they will rethink this contribution and find a way to make it right."
A Facebook group dedicated to boycotting Target continues to gain momentum.