Retail Chain Faces Community Ire
by JAMES MICHAELS
LGBT activists has designated a national day of protest against neighborhood Target Department Stores for Saturday, August 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sporadic protests have already been held in numerous cities throughout the United States. Organizers are upset with the Target Corporation for making a contribution to MN Forward, a political organization supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Emmer is known for opposing gay rights and especially gay marriage.
Earlier this year in January, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-to-4 decision that the government can not ban donations to political organizations made by corporations with the court claiming is was a case of free speech. The dropping of the ban did not include direct corporate donations to individual candidates.
Target’s donation was $100,000 in cash and another $50,000 in goods and services. Both Target and Best Buy, another retailer which made a $100,000 donation to MN Forward, had previously rated a 100% from the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index.
“Target has been a champion for workplace equality for many years,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a written statement. “That’s why their recent donation to MN Forward was so at odds with their sterling reputation as a great employer for LGBT people.
The fact that their political contribution was used to advance an anti-equality candidate was extremely hurtful to all fair-minded Americans.”
Target responded with: “Target understands the concerns of the HRC. We have had multiple conversations with the HRC during the past few weeks and will continue our constructive dialogue. Target respects the work of the HRC and appreciates our partnership with them over the years. We hope to continue to work with the HRC in a spirit of mutual cooperation.”
Target said that its decision to support MN Forward was based solely on helping to elect candidates who make lower taxes, jobs and economic issues a top priority.
Target’s chief executive, Gregg Steinhael also sent a statement to Target employees saying that the company is genuinely sorry about the donation and vowed to review the process in which political donations are decided.
Since the revelation of the donation, gay-rights activists have called for demonstrations outside of Target stores throughout the country and to destroy Target Visa credit cards. At first, Target stock has lost over $1.3 billion with the threat of a nationwide boycott, a loss of 3.5% but has since risen to pre-boycott levels.
Other research showed that Target has a history of supporting anti-gay causes. Abe Sauer wrote in The Awl that “The truth is not that Target and its leadership have suddenly turned on their commitment to gay rights. It’s more that it never really existed to begin with. Further research shows that Target has funneled significant funding to the most socially conservative of Republicans and that it boasts a frightening culture of anti-gay candidate support from Target’s own stable of top executives.”
The progressive-leaning MoveOn.org has joined in calling for a boycott of Target.
As a side note, Tom Emmer’s Democratic opponent for Minnesota governor is Mark Dayton whose family founded Dayton-Hudson Department stores which owns Target.
At press time, questions to Target corporate media relations department went unanswered.