August 6th, 2010
03:54 PM ET
13 years ago

Retailer Target now the target of a boycott by, gays


 Retail giant Target is under fire for a campaign contribution. (PHOTO CREDIT: CNN)

Washington (CNN) - A liberal political group and some gays and lesbians have put a bulls-eye on one of the nation's largest retail giants, targeting the Target Corporation with a massive sales boycott despite an apology from the store Thursday night. is angry with Target over a political contribution the company made. sees the contribution as Target's attempt to "buy elections."

Pro gay rights groups are angry with Target because the political contribution went to a group that has endorsed a candidate who is staunchly against same-sex marriage.

On Friday, delivered a petition to the retailer's Minneapolis headquarters. The political activist group told CNN the petition was signed by over 250,000 people who have pledged not to shop at Target. The group also told CNN that members went out to protest at over 1,000 of the retailer's stores across the nation on Friday, dropping off letters to Target store managers.

The contribution at issue is Target's $150,000 donation to a group that backs a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate.

The group is MN Forward, which says it's focused on job creation. The candidate receiving its endorsement is Tom Emmer, who is running in the state's Republican primary as he hopes to become governor.

Target, other larger corporations and labor unions, are now allowed to freely contribute directly to political efforts following the Supreme Court's landmark Citizen's United v. Federal Election Commission decision that was handed down earlier this year. accuses Target of "trying to subvert the will of the people."

Its members have taken to Target's Facebook page. "It costs Target hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy politicians," a poster under the name Mark Fearing wrote.

Another poster, under the name Scott Fearing, borrowed the retailer's well-known slogan to blast the company, writing, "I 'Expect More' from Target."

Some Facebook users did, however, post messages of support for the company.

A member under the name Eamonn Knuff posted his "opposition to the boycott." And a member under the name Stephen Fox wrote, "Still a lot of strong conservatives coming by the page to support Target."

CNN contacted Target but a company spokeswoman said there would be no further response beyond a letter released on Thursday by the retailer's chairman, CEO and president.
In that letter, Gregg Steinhafel apologized to Target managers and other employees for the $150,000 contribution to MN Forward.

"I have heard from many of you, and our team members, over the past week regarding Target's contribution to MN Forward," Steinhafel wrote. "The intent of our political contribution to MN Forward was to support economic growth and job creation."

Meanwhile, pro-gay rights activists are angry with Emmer's staunch anti same-sex marriage stance. They cite Target's contribution to MN Forward, and the group's spending some $200,000 to help Emmer. Activists have gone online, also urging a boycott of the retailer, claiming that a company that prides itself on welcoming all people should not contribute to a group that endorses an anti same-sex marriage candidate.

OutFront Minnesota, a pro-gay rights group based in the state, has posted a letter on its website aimed at Target. While the group praises Target for being a "strong ally" of gays and lesbians in Minnesota, OutFront still urges the company to take back its donation to MN Forward.

"Target should recognize that its support of Representative Emmer's campaign supports his toxic social agenda, significant parts of which involve targeting GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] people…for discrimination and marginalization," OutFront wrote on its website.

In his letter, the Target chief also said that the contribution "affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry."

The Target chief added: "We remain fully committed to fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals."

Emmer's campaign told CNN the candidate has not made gay rights an issue in his campaign and said the situation has been blown out of proportion.

"It's been turned into something else and that's unfortunate," spokesman Brian Walsh said. "The number one issue facing the state of Minnesota is job creation."

MN Forward did not respond to CNN calls for comment.

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soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    @w.walsh – maybe because this is NOT a story about the President. Can you read? Never mind, don't answer that. We know you are a closed minded individual.
    I won't buy at target because their stuff is the worse you can buy and nothing lasts!
    At the same time why can't people who love each other not have the same rights regardless of whether you are two of a kind or not?
    No, I am not gay. I just think that those of you who hide behind the bible and Jesus are a bunch of hypocrites.

    August 6, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Half this country should start considering boycotting breathing"

    Why not...that same half already boycot facts, evidence and rational thought and opts instead for ideological drivel over pragmatic solution-building. You sure you conservatives are still breathing in the first place?

    August 6, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. J

    I'll be shopping at Target more now!

    August 6, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. Liberals are poison

    Time for a buy-cott. Let it backfire right in their faces just like they tried to do with Whole Foods. The majority of Americans are sick and tired of the pansy-asses that are trying to dictate their terms to us.

    August 6, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. NosuchthingasGod

    Dave in Connecticut August 6th, 2010 5:10 pm ET
    Good bye Walmart, hello Target. I will be giving Target allot more of my business, especially at Christmas time. Keep that CEO in charge he has a good christian based head on his sholders. They ought to make an island or country specifically for gay people where they can make their own laws and stop spending tax payers money to repeal laws that normal individuals cherish (e.g. Marriage

    You are really moving on up there Dave from Walmart to Target lol Maybe you can find a good ole american flag shirt you can wear to church on Sunday

    August 6, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  6. Fayegella

    I am not shopping at Target until the donation is withdrawn. I am not gay, nor do I have a gay family member, but I am in favor of people holding the reins to political power, not corporations. If Target wants to keep all of us shopping there, stop trying to buy elections – just sell good stuff a good price.

    August 6, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. foxsmartchicago

    target can choose to support whoever they wish but i can choose who to support with my retail dollars and i choose to not give my money to stores that support bigots. the suprme court opened a real can of worms here and corporations will be held accountable. the lgbt community and their supporters have a lot of discressionary income...i wouldn't tick them off. too many other options so i'll be selective where my hard-earned money goes

    August 6, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. Devin

    Let's be very clear here, this is NOT a gay issue. This is political maneuvering under the guise of 'gay rights' to scare corporations from making political contributions to conservative candidates.

    August 6, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. John

    My local Target "fired" a 55 year old female friend of mine because they said, she was a little slow physically!! Are you kidding me. She has a little arthritis but is a very smart and hard worker. She is suing them and I haven't shoped there since. Knowing this additional information, I will make sure all my friends don't shop at Target and Best Buy. They are haters. I have no room for hate in my life. They sure love our money though. Well, they can't have it both ways.

    August 6, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. seabelly

    Not Stupid said "Oh boy, another group of pathetic people playing victim calling for a boycott of the big evil corporation. Haven't seen this one 50 times before.

    Half this country should start considering boycotting breathing."

    Well, Not Stupid – I couldn't agree more. You and your half should start.

    August 6, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "If 'marriage' is defined as union between a man & women before God. And God says homosexuality is a sin...then why would a gay person want to be 'married'? Somebody....."

    You asked for it.


    In other words, because of the 1st Amendment, the Constitution and our laws could use the word "marriage" or even a word like "sacrement" AND YOU CANNOT READ ANY RELIGIOUS MEANING INTO THEM...PERIOD. Get it? Got it? Good.

    August 6, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. torrie

    Way to go Target, I have always and will continue to shop at Target. Way to go for endorsing the candidate. I am also tired of all of this, "I've got rights business." If you say anything against them they will protest or boycott. Get a life and read your Bible.

    August 6, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. get real

    I bet Alan shops at gay owned businesses and he doesn't even know it!

    August 6, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. mikey

    Looks like pink slipper sales will take a dive.

    August 6, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. Joe

    So, how many of you realize that homosexuals make up less than 1% of the total US population? Just sayin'.

    August 6, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. Gay-ly Logical

    Tolerance for other ways of life or beliefs, and tolerance for discrimination are two very different things, @James. I find it interesting that so many of you have a hard time wrapping your narrow minds around that.

    I respect that people may not agree with same-sex marriage. Most same-sex marriage supporters aren't asking you to. What we are asking, however, is that our society realize that the religious convictions and xenophobia of some cannot be substituted as Constitutional law for everyone.

    The Constitution is a living, breathing document meant to protect the rights of Americans, and adapt as society requires. It stands to ensure that our society, and in many cases minorities, are guarded from dangerous "group think" and irrational prejudice. Americans are Americans, and we all deserve the same rights. Please take a moment to step out of the 19th Century and join us in a society that promotes equality.

    August 6, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  17. C Smith

    I am a big Dem. And while I disagree with their donation, I don't see the point of boycotting Target. Especially when they have very gay friendly policies. As much as you disagree, they have the right to donate to anyone they want to.

    August 6, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. commonsense

    Hey, GET REAL !!!
    Please explain to me how two guys can get pregnant with today's
    fertility technology .
    Go to school again and at least try to finish 3rd grad. Then write
    a letter that makes sense.

    August 6, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Paul

    Target will probably gain more business than they lose form this!!!!!
    The moral majority think the same way.

    August 6, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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