MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — After spending the better part of the last two years fighting backlash from the LGBT community over its political donations to anti-gay candidates, retailer Target Corp. announced it is launching a pride promotion for the month of June.
The retailer said it will be offering 10 rainbow-themed T-shirts for sale online, and promised to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the Family Equality Council, a Washington D.C.-based group that advocates for LGBT families, reported the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Ten T-shirts are now featured on Target’s website with gay-friendly themes. Two feature a design by rocker Gwen Stefani, who has her own line of kids’ hipster clothing called Harajuku Mini at Target. The Stefani design reads, “Love is love.” Each Pride T-shirt sells for $12.99, all of which will be donated to the Family Equality Council.
Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the Pride T-shirt promotion grew out of a grass-roots effort among employees and the company’s LGBTA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allies) Business Council, which includes about 1,200 employees at the company’s headquarters.
“Target supports inclusivity and diversity in every aspect of our business and has a long history of supporting the LGBT community through giving, volunteerism and event sponsorship and participation,” spokeswoman Molly Snyder said in a statement. “Over the past year, we heard from our team members and guests that they’d like to see an assortment of Pride merchandise available at Target.”
The announcement comes as a surprise to many gay rights activists, who in 2010 launched a nationwide boycott of the retailer over a $150,000 donation Target made to MN Forward, a group that supported gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, a staunch opponent of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.
Later that year, it was revealed that Target continued donating to anti-gay politicians, even after CEO Gregg Steinhafel reaffirmed the company’s long-standing support for gay rights and committed to reforming the review process for future political donations.
“I think that maybe the donation to Minnesota Forward and the backlash really served as a catalyst for employees inside of Target to have their voices heard,” said Dot Belstler, of Pride Twin Cities.
Target said it would give a maximum of $120,000 to the Family Equality Council.
“[Target] is 100 percent committed to the goal of families being respected in all communities including parents who happen to be LGBT,” said Jennifer Chrisler, the council’s executive director. “This is just a continuation of that support.”
Target’s pride campaign comes as the debate heats up over same-sex marriage, and the retailer has not yet taken a public position on the upcoming Minnesota Marriage Amendment, which would place a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution.
In 2011, Target sued the California activist organization, “Canvass For A Cause,” to block them from asking customers outside Target stores to sign petitions to help the cause of marriage equality. A judge later ruled against Target.