Gay rights advocates protest at Uptown Target

Sat. August 14, 2010 4:05 PM by News Staff

Target apology fails to appease gay protesters

Chicago, IL - As gay rights advocates and allies participate in a nationwide day of boycott against Target Saturday, about 50 people protested outside the new Target in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood.

The Windy City Times reports that the Chicago protest was initiated by 16-year-old New Trier High School student Zachary Fraum and organized by the Gay Liberation Network.

The nationwide boycott was organized on Facebook. The Facebook page Boycott Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics continues to attract new members, more than 60,000 as of Saturday.

The controversy began when Target gave $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.

Emmer is seen as a social conservative and opposes same-sex marriage.

Target Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel apologized to employees last week saying the company's intent was to "support economic growth and job creation."

GLN's Andy Thayer told the Times that Target employees are also the victim of the company's CEO who opposes a unionized workforce.

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Target is in closed-door discussions with Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest gay rights organization in the country. HRC is demanding that Target make an equivalent or greater donation to groups supporting gay rights candidates.

As leverage, HRC has reportedly threatened to come out against the construction of two new Target stores in San Francisco, a city where gay rights groups have strong political influence.

Gay allies in Chicago, including Mayor Richard M. Daley and Ald. Helen Shiller (46th), were instrumental in the development and subsequent opening of the Target location in Uptown last month.

Openly-gay state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) was at the opening on July 20. After Target's donation became public last week, Harris told, "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's campaign donation is one of the first to gain national attention since a recent Supreme Court decision to allow corporations world-wide to limitless contributions to American election campaigns.

Political analysts say Target's experience will most-likely cause corporations to think twice before contributing to political campaigns in the future.

Electronics-giant Best Buy has also been criticized for its $100,000 donation to Minnesota Forward and the Emmer campaign.

Emmer will face one of three Democrat gubernatorial candidates after the Aug. 10 primary. All three Democrats support legalizing same-sex marriage.