Target Isn't So Gay After All

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Target Isn't So Gay After All

Earlier this week Target Chief Executive, Gregg Steinhafel, defended his company's donations to a PAC supporting Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Emmer opposes same-sex marriage. Steinhafel said the donations were for business reasons and not in support of the social issues.


Steinhafel continues to defend their $150,000 contribution claiming that Target stores provide domestic partner benefits to employees, and in MN the company is a sponsor of Twin Cities Pride.

Large corporations have recently earned the right to donate large sums of money to political candidates as a result of the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizen's United case. Under the conservative Roberts court, corporations are now seen as individual rights earning the same rights that individual citizens do. Do you remember why Obama got pissed at the Court during his last SOTU speech? Well, this is the reason.

Do you think it is fair to punish local Target stores because of the decisions of their corporate management to exert financial influence in political campaigns? Is this the best way for citizens to fight back against corporate dollars in the electoral process?

Comments [10]

caramelteddy's picture

ends, means, and in betweens

It always seems to me, that the first thing we do as a form of protest is withhold our money from businesses that don't support our social views. Is this really the best thing for our community? If every queer in the country stopped shopping at Target, we might casue enough profit loss for them to be forced to shut down a few hundred stores, put thousands of people out of work, cripple the economy of a few hundred communities, and essentially punish everyone except for the corporate execs. 

Major retailers are the biggest employers of the queer workforce in the US. So, guess who we hurt most with our attempts at ethical spending....that's right, ourselves. I will happily boycott Target as soon as the sassy queer emo kid is no longer manning the fitting room, the cocky butch stockgirl is no longer huffing merchandise out onto the salesfloor, and the "too-young-for-me-ego-boosting-femme-cashier" stops flirting when I pay for my stuff.

If we want to really change things and set our community up for success, we need a better strategy. We need to infiltrate from inside, get more queer presence in those big corner offices. We need more gay control at the top. More gay owned and operated corporations who can pump funding into campaigns that will benefit our community.

That's my take.

Keeli M's picture


The only way to impact change in an institution whose means to an end is to profit is to cut off their ability to profit.  The problem is that if we boycot everything that you don't believe in you're living in a yurt and growing your own food off the grid.  Everyonen is in bed with everyone - corporations are not unlike people.  They have relationships, they make choices that are not always the best choices, they get in bed with each other.  Damn though - I really wanted to pick up that dress on the rack I saw last week.  I'll choose not to for now.

blow up my ego @lvrandafighter

karrr's picture

fair fair!

the best way to effect change in our country is through the purse strings...

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Welcome to the Corporate States of America

With unkimited amounts of cash to donate, and no limits on those donations, who did Target immediately go to ?  Straight (pun intended) to the radical flying monkey right.

Any bets on how many other "LGBT Friendly" corporations will follow suit?

I'm betting it's over taxes, which is fine.  I propose all Targets go tax free, just as soon as we figure out how to pull the plug on all taxpayer funded benefits they get.  You know, roads, power lines, water, police, fire, etc.  Pretty much the same proposal I have for all these other corporations that insist they are autonomous nations unto themselves.

minniesota's picture

I still like Target; here's why

Target Headquarters is in downtown Minneapolis. This contribution creates a dilemnna for me because Target is well-known for its support of our Twin Cities Pride and it does provide domestic partner benefits. Not only that, but Target has been good about employing our students.

I will not personally boycott Target due to this contribution. I will let Target know that their contribution has sent a bad message to the LBGT community because we cannot separate Emmer's social stances from his other stances on issues.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

SMBrown's picture

Of course this makes me

Of course this makes me wonder about this candidate's non-LGBT stances and if I want to indirectly support them by shopping at Target.  'Business reasons' that are good for Target may not be good for me.  Which is why we need to get corporate money out of politics entirely, not give it more clout!

minniesota's picture

More thoughts

I had to run off to a meeting and didn't have time to add this to my first comment:

1. I live in the Twin Cities and I know good people, who work for Target. I like Target and will shop there before I shop at Walmart.

2. The LGBT employees at Target  have expressed their concern over the donation. Good for them.

3. The donation was to a group called political MN Forward that is supported by a broad coalition of large and small businesses throughout the state, including the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

4. Target is not the only local business to give to MN Forward. Best Buy did too ($100,000).

5. Tighten your seat belts. This is only just the beginning of corporations making these kinds of donations due to the recent Supreme Court ruling.

6. On the flip side, corporations like Target are learning they will take some heat when their donations are made public.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Not2Taem's picture

Thanks Laniaya,

After reading your blog I went to my local Taget to return items I recently purchased in anticipation of the start of the school year and tell them why. The manager, a woman who appeared to be in her 40's, said, "I have been instructed to tell you that Target respects all its customers and everyone in the community. I have been instructed to say nothing more."  When I asked who had given that instruction, she offered a telephone number if I would like to contact a customer support agent. Throughout our mostly one sided conversation, she kept one hand on a large purple triangle earring and looked distinctly uncomfortable. I guess the word is out.

The phone call got me classic politician responses. The person did not in any way acknowledge the base issue of the donation. I got many variations on their respect and support for the GLBT community and assurances that my business is important to them, but the individual refused to speak to the issue. Time to shoot and email to their web site and draft a letter to go with my card cancellation.

Not2Taem's picture

Target's Reply

This is the reply that I got to my email.
 to me

show details 3:04 PM (18 hours ago)

Dear ***,

Target has long believed that engaging in civic activities is an important and necessary element of operating a national retail business. What's more important than any one candidate's stance on a particular issue is how we nurture thoughtful, long-term growth in the state of Minnesota.

Our support of causes and candidates is based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business objectives. To continue to grow and create jobs and opportunity in our home state, we believe it is imperative to be engaged in public policy and the political process. That is why we are members of organizations like the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. And that is why we decided to contribute to MN Forward.

MN Forward's objective is to elect candidates from both parties who will make job creation and economic growth a top priority. We operate best when working collaboratively with legislators on both sides of the aisle.  In fact, if you look at our Federal PAC contributions year to date, you will see that they are very balanced between Republicans and Democrats. For more information please visit, and view the Civic Activity page.

Target has a large stake in Minnesota's future, which is why it is so important to be able to provide jobs, serve guests, support communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders. As an international business that is proud to call Minnesota home, it is critical that we have a business environment that allows us to be competitive. Our guests, team members, communities and shareholders depend on Target to remain competitive.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.


Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

SMBrown's picture

Absolutely it's fair to

Absolutely it's fair to protest at the local level--it's the best way not only to hit the corporate execs where it counts, but also to educate in a very personal way those in one's community.  The more dialogue the better.