Target Corporation has come under fire from gay rights advocates and LGBT activists for contributing to Minnesota Forward, a political action group that has come out in support of anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.
The Minneapolis-based retail chain gave $150,000 to the Republican-friendly fund, which is running television ads supporting Emmer, the presumptive GOP nominee.
Emmer is a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage. In 2007, he authored a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage and civil unions, and makes this statement on his campaign website:
“I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman. As a legislator, I have consistently supported the constitutional marriage amendment that protects traditional marriage.”
Until now, Target has been usually regarded as fairly pro-gay, offering partner benefits for employees and appearing on many lists of the best places for gays to shop and work.
But that has not deterred gay rights advocates from unleashing on Target. In recent days, LGBT bloggers have blasted the company, launched a Boycott Target page on Facebook, and a blog TargetingGLBT, all in effort to pressure the company to rethink its political contributions.
The Minnesota Independent reports that on several occasions, Emmer has tried to change language in bills to that same-sex couples cannot benefit. In a bill to create standards around surrogate motherhood, Emmer attempted to replace the word “parents” with the words “mother and father.” In a wrongful death bill, Emmer disputed using the term “domestic partner” just as he has in bills aimed at providing benefits for same-sex partners.
Emmer has also been criticized for his association with Christian hard rock ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. The group’s front man, Bradlee Dean, told radio listeners recently that Muslim countries that call for the execution of gays and lesbians are “more moral than even the American Christians.”
Emmer has referred to the group as “nice guys.”
“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.”
On Tuesday, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel today sent a letter to employees defending the company’s record on gay rights.
“Let me be very clear, Target’s support of the (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered) community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company,” Steinhafel wrote.
Electronics retailer Best Buy Co. gave $100,000 to the group, according to an MN Forward report made public Tuesday.