Target opens in Uptown, comes under fire from gay rights groups

Mon. July 26, 2010 7:14 PM by News Staff

Chicago, IL - As the long-awaited Target opens in the Uptown neighborhood, the Minnesota-based retailer is coming under fire from LGBT groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, for a donation to fund anti-gay politics.

According to a report by Minnesota Public Radio, Target gave $150,000 to a 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 and the minimum wage could upset some Target shoppers.

HRC released the following statement criticizing Target's support of Emmer:

Target has worked hard to create a fair and equitable workplace for its LGBT employees, and should be proud of its leadership in this area. It is for this reason that HRC is very disappointed in Target's significant monetary contribution to Minnesota Forward, a group supporting the most clearly anti-LGBT candidate for Governor in Minnesota. We have reached out to Target to express our concern over this contribution. While political contributions to support candidates are not a factor in HRC Foundation's Corporate Equality Index, HRC finds it puzzling that Target would take great steps to support LGBT inclusiveness while simultaneously helping a candidate who shamelessly rejects equality for LGBT Minnesotans.

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.

Bradlee Dean, the band's frontman, has been quoted as saying on his radio show, "Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America. Just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination."

Dean has since attempted to clarify the statement on his website saying that he rejects the "actual practice of executing homosexuals." According to the Independent, Emmer's campaign donated $250 to the band in 2008.

A Target spokeswoman told MPR that the company does not support a particular party, but supports candidates that "directly effect the company's retail agenda."

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Ald. Helen Shiller (46th) and openly-gay state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) were at the opening of the Uptown Target on July 20. The new location is part of a development called Wilson Yard, which has been in the works for a decade.

Rep. Harris told today that he - like many others - was surprised by this 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."

Target also opened its first-ever store in Manhattan last week.