(Photo: Andy Birkey)
It might as well be TC Pride’s logo. Those ubiquitous temporary tattoos with the Target logo superimposed on a rainbow flag appear on practically every other arm, cheek, shoulder, and shaved head over the Twin Cities’ Pride weekend, a tangible symbol of Target Corporation’s reach in the Twin Cities’ LGBT community and what, until this week, seemed like a strong statement of support for the LGBT community. However, following its donation to MN Forward, a political group that exclusively stumps for anti-LGBT gubernatorial candidate and State Representative Tom Emmer, waves of anger have swept over the Minnesota LGBT community, and Target’s responses so far seem unlikely to calm that sense of betrayal and repair Target’s tarnished corporate image.

Yesterday morning, OutFront Minnesota published an open letter to Target CEO Gregg W. Steinhafel on their website, calling Steinhafel’s attention to Emmer’s anti-LGBT track record and asking Target to take back their donation or give an equal amount to “a political committee or cause of its choice that works to combat the attacks, dehumanization and marginalization of GLBT people, immigrants, and low-income workers represented by Emmer and Minnesota Forward.”

Following the letter, TheColu.mn recieved a statement from Target spokesperson Jessica Carlson, saying Target “is proud of the diversity of its team, and we greatly value the wide range of perspectives offered by all of our team members,” and said that this “diversity” strengthens its brand, but explained its donation to Emmer by saying that it has “a large stake in the continued economic growth of our state.”

The statement did not make any specific reference to OutFront’s letter, and so far, Target has not returned calls requesting comment.

An activist with OutFront expressed hope that Target would act in the interests of their liberal yuppie-geared brand. “[N]early everyone in management seems 100% pro-GLBT,” Adam Robbins told TheColu.mn. “If it’s a dictatorship from the top, then there’s not much room to pull back from that kind of bigot-funding. If the branding/management/PR people have any say, I think they’ll realize how bad this is for business and pull back.”

While OutFront is quite influential, so far they are the only prominent Minnesota LGBT organization to come out swinging against Target. Quorum, an non-profit organization that represents the Twin Cities LGBT business community and works to improve workplace conditions for LGBT employees has told TheColu.mn that they are “monitoring the situation,” and has declined to comment. The Twin Cities Steering Committee of the Human Rights Campaign has not returned an email seeking comment, and even Twin Cities Pride, a major recipient of Target money, has largely remained silent, saying they are reviewing their partnership with Target.

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  1. I, for one, am hopeful for a response from HRC. I know many folks who volunteer with TC HRC and they can’t be happy with this.

    HRC’s own Corporate Equality Index is aimed at targeting just this kind of behavior.

    #6: Employer exhibits responsible behavior toward the LGBT community; does not engage in action that would undermine LGBT equality (0 points) Employers found engaging in activities that would undermine LGBT equality will have 15 points removed from their scores.

    Surely they’ll have to respond to this “action that would undermine LGBT equality.”


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