The logo used by several Facebook groups opposing Target's donation supporting State Rep. Tom Emmer's campaign for governor

The nation’s premier LGBT lobbying organization has weighed in on the Target controversy, saying they’re “disappointed” in the discount retailer. However, they’re leaving their biggest tools at home when it comes to compelling some form of compensation or an apology from the company.

In a statement responding to Target Corporation’s $150,000 donation to anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, the Human Rights Campaign told TheColu.mn that the donation would not impact the company’s high ranking in their well-known Corporate Equality Index, which measures participating corporations’ LGBT-inclusiveness. Target has enjoyed a 100% score on the CEI since 2009, and a high score for several years.

In promotional materials for the 2010 CEI, HRC President Joe Solmonese touted the report as a way to fight employment discrimination, and the criteria for next year’s CEI require corporations to not engage in “activity that would undermine LGBT equality.”

The HRC’s Deputy Press Secretary, Paul Guequierre explained it this way in an email to TheColu.mn: “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.”

Until this year’s landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision, Minnesota and 24 other states had laws banning corporate donations to political campaigns. The court decision, according to Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board Executive Director Gary Goldsmith, was what allowed Target to overtly donate to Emmer’s campaign.

So far, Guequierre said, the HRC has no plans right now to modify CEI criteria to account for these new possibilities for corporation’s anti-LGBT activities, but he left the door open for changes in the future.

“Now in its ninth year, the CEI’s criteria has evolved,” Guequierre told TheColu.mn in an email. “In 2011, for example, there will be nearly a half-dozen new criteria that will be added for evaluation. Criteria will continue to evolve as we come into new information.”

So far, OutFront Minnesota continues to be the only major LGBT organization to call for specific action from Target Corporation to compensate for the company’s donation to Emmer, who has ties to a Christian youth ministry that not only covertly preaches religion in public schools, but has also advocated for state-supported executions and incarceration of LGBT people. When asked about OutFront’s call for Target rescind its donation or give an equal amount to a charity that fights anti-LGBT discrimination, Guequierre told TheColu.mn that “Targets already donates to a number of worthy causes in Minnesota and around the country. We would hope that they will continue to support these causes at increased levels.”

Twin Cities Pride, a non-profit, 501c3 organization that organizes the yearly Twin Cities Pride festival with substantial financial support from Target, has officially declined to comment. Executive Director Dot Beltsler told TheColu.mn this morning that the organization was worried their tax-exempt status would be threatened if they weighed in on what she characterized as a political campaign.

Belstler said TC Pride has tried to find out how the decision to financially support the Emmer campaign was made. She said she “believe[s] there’s some internal discussion [at Target] about ‘how could this discussion be made without input’” from the company’s LGBT employee organization, which Belstler said includes many hundreds of employees across the company.

While TC Pride’s sponsorship contract with Target expires this year, Belstler told TheColu.mn, the organization has not discussed any reduction in Target’s presence at the festival in response to the donation. She mentioned that every one of the festival’s corporate sponsorships were up for consideration at the end of this year, but that she would prefer to continue TC Pride’s relationship with Target. “[T]hey do help keep the festival free,” Belstler said.

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James Sanna is the Assistant Editor.

7 Responses to “ HRC: Target Donation Won’t Impact Corporate Equality Index Ranking ”

  1. Dieter

    Well now we know another big corporation that is CLEARLY “donating” money to Joe Solmonese, and his cash cow “faux” gay advocacy group.

    H.R.C. stands for :

    Help Raise Cash (for Joe’s wardrobe fund)

    If you donate to or listen to anything the HRC has to say, than you deserve to be treated like garbage.

    If Joe were to condemn Target for wanting to kill the gays, then that would be less money for him from target, and one less fancy dinner party he could afford to attend for all those cool photo ops, which is ALL Joe and HRC do anymore.
    He is like a cartoon of the reality celebritards we have to watch on TV every day.Joe wants to be “famous and rich”…he could care less about anyone else.

  2. Wes

    It may not affect how the HRC labels the company, but until there is some sort of apology or restitution from Target Corp, I will be boycotting them. This is inexcusable, and a slap in the face to gays and lesbians nationwide.

  3. This will reduce my shopping at Target. This also is an example of why lgbt activists have no respect for the HRC.

  4. Chuck

    The HRC is fast losing credibility with this issue. Their guidelines for rating the corporations clearly state: “Exhibits Responsible Behavior Toward the LGBT Community; Does Not Engage in Action
    That Would Undermine LGBT Equality. Employers Found Engaging in Such Activities Will
    Have 15 Points Removed From Their Scores.”

    Supporting Emmer, who has on his webpage that marriage is between one man and one woman, engages in action that would undermine LGBT equality. Target has slapped the LGBT community and it’s LGBT employees in the face with this donation and trying to say the only reason for the donation is because Emmer supports big business (i.e. tax cuts for big business) is a pathetic attempt to save face. And let’s not forget Best Buy has also donated a large sum of money to the same organization and they also enjoy a 100% rating from the HRC. Target and Best Buy will not be getting any more of my money because I don’t want it going to candidates like Emmer. But I also can’ trust the HRC index now because a company with a rating of 80 to 100 points could also be giving large sums of money to candidates or other organizations that want to strip away the rights and dignity of the LGBT community.

  5. Mark Sawin

    For a long while now I have felt that HRC was a very limp wrist-ed excuse for a gay rights group. The HRC reaction to the Target donation prove that I am right. Target should immediately rescind the donation to Minnesota Forward and issue a fervent and extremely deep apology to the gay community for making such a short sighted decision on a donation to a group that is vehemently anti-gay! I will do my part in a boycott of Target and of Best Buy, they made a large donation to the same group! Mark

  6. Will

    This election is not a one-issue topic. Target must keep their financial priorities in mind. Emmer is not supported for his views on homosexuality, but for his economic standpoint.

    After all Target and Best Buy do to help the GLBT community (pride week/funding/work procedures), I can’t see how HRC gets off lambasting the companies. I will increase my spending at Target from now on to show my encouragement of their generosity towards schools, non-profits, and government.

    HRC, not everything is a conspiracy against you. Instead of wasting money on a full page print ad, use the money to help those you serve.

  7. Judith Peck

    Target was my favorite store. I looked forward to their Sundy adds I don’t know anything about the inside workings of the HRC, so that has not bearing on my and my extended families decision to boycott Target.

    This candidate must surely be expected to do a lot for Target’s business, as he appears to to SO anti human, both in his human rights and religious beliefs. I am thinking that Target is becoming part of the the greater plutocracy trying to take over this country, bottom line=money.

    So, Target is out my small 15 member extended family, none of which are a member of any kind of minority group–Blonde, Blue, Straight.

    Judith H. Peck

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