LGBT Groups Take Aim at Target

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on Jul 28, 2010 5:40PM

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Photo by mmmmarshall
The PR hits just keep coming for Target. The Minn.-based, growing retail empire is already under fire for donating $150,000 to a PAC backing Tom Emmer, an anti-gay Republican gubernatorial candidate in the land of 10,000 lakes who reportedly has ties to a Christian rock group advocating the murder of LGBT people. And, yesterday, the company's CEO Gregg Steinhafel and his wife are also on the record for donating $10,000, the maximum allowable contribution, to Rep. Michele Bachmann.

The news has ignited outrage in LGBT and progressive communities. At press time, over 18,000 people have signed a petition urging Target to cease their campaign contributions to anti-gay politicians and some activists and community members - including this adorable mother - are calling for a boycott.

Steinhafel's support of Bachmann is particularly troubling given the Tea Partier's damning stance toward LGBT issues. She has voted against repealing the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, likened the "gay and lesbian lifestyle" to "bondage" and, in voting against expanding hate crimes legislation, compared gay people to pedophiles. And she, not surprisingly, also is opposed to gay marriage.

"[Gay marriage] is an earthquake issue," Bachmann said. "This will change our state forever. Because the immediate consequence, if gay marriage goes through, is that K-12 little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal, natural and perhaps they should try it."

But Steinhafel has stood behind both his personal contributions to Bachmann's campaign and corporate donation to MN Forward, the Emmer-backing PAC. In an open letter addressed to the company's LGBT employees yesterday, Steinhafel claims the company's support of the LGBT community is "unwavering and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company," pointing to their offering of employee domestic partner benefits and sponsorship of LGBT events.

"As you know," Steinhafel writes. "Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth ... [I]t is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda."

Target officially opened its Wilson Yard location in Uptown on Sunday. Further expansion into the West Loop is also in the works as is a store in the Loop at 1 S. State Street (aka the former Carson Pirie Scott & Co. building). Openly gay state Rep. Greg Harris, who has supported Target's new venture in Uptown, told ChicagoPride.com he was surprised by the news and hoped the company would "rethink this contribution and find a way to make it right."