Target to LGBT activists: We won't make it right

Mon. August 16, 2010 5:00 PM by News Staff

Minneapolis, MN - After two weeks of closed door meetings with the Human Rights Campaign, Target says it will take no corrective actions to repair the harm caused by contributing $150,000 to anti-gay politics.

HRC, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, says it will now devote $150,000 of its own resources to help elect a pro-equality governor in Minnesota.

"All fair-minded Americans will now rightly question Target's commitment to equality. If their initial contribution was a slap in the face, their refusal to make it right is a punch in the gut and that's not something that we will soon forget," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "However, with full marriage equality hanging in the balance in Minnesota, regardless of Target, it's important that we as a community send a message that we will work tirelessly to elect pro-equality candidates."

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.", a liberal advocacy group, has accused Target of trying to buy the election and has called for a nationwide boycott.

About 50 gay rights advocates and allies participated in a protest outside the new Target in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood on Saturday.

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.

"Target and Best Buy have - and no doubt will continue to have - model employment policies for LGBT people. We will continue to support those efforts. But before they can regain that exalted status among their consumers, they need to make things right in Minnesota," said Solmonese. "The nation's LGBT community has shown these two companies enormous customer loyalty. Now it's time for that faithfulness to be returned."

Emmer will face Democrat gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton, who supports legalizing same-sex marriage, and Independent Tom Horner.