August 6th, 2010
03:54 PM ET
12 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. Mark from Louisiana

    I'll do a lot more shopping at Target.
    Why is it that the unions can give hundreds of millions to questionable candidates but then make a fuss if a corporation gives a few bucks to a organization they don't agree with?
    You can't have it both ways libtards

    August 6, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. Fed Up

    Who cares? There is more to a candidate than if they are for gay marriage..........Obama is against gay marriage and you didn't see Moveon targeting him. Whatever moveon says.............I will do the exact opposite. Nothing but a hateful bunch that goes after you if you don't think the way they want you to..........typical liberals.

    OBAMA is against gay marriage.............listen to his own words on more than one occasion.

    August 6, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Big George in Big D

    What an absolute bunch of crap with an "S"! When a person can't endorse whomever they choose or contribute money to the campaign of, this is a sad, sad country! and so and Soros, and fat Michael can all go stuff a cow, and take all the oddities with you!

    August 6, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. Edwin

    Democracy in action - Target may be free to donate scads of money to its favorite candidate, but that action is not without consequence.

    What Target *should* do is donate money based on the wishes of its employees, not the wishes of its CEO.

    August 6, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. Lee Bartholomew

    Not to mention Target takes anti union extremes to a whole new level. Even mentioning the word will get you fired. Even thinking of it gets you fired. Talking their distribution centers here. Target has been on the spit list for gross retailers for awhile. Walmart. bad, but how to make Walmart look good. Check out how Target does it's practices and throw up.

    August 6, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. Dustin

    Very, very foolish decision on behalf of Target. While I think it's unrealistic to "take back" their donation I do think they should give an equal – if not greater – amount to a local non profit or candidate that advocates for gay and lesbian rights.

    August 6, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. David

    Oh, bring it on, you spiteful twinkle toes.

    August 6, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  8. M.Walsh

    Why doesn't Move-on.Org target President Obama as well since his press secretary Robert Gibbs just this week confirmed Obama's anti gay marriage position. As a Democrat, I am appalled at Move-On.Org's hypocracy.

    August 6, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Aaron

    I am going to shop at Target tonight just to show my support!

    August 6, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  10. jim

    This is more of what this country needs.Another boycott in order to shut down another business. Boy, how many people does Target employ across this country.Don't we already have enough jobless people in our country. What the heck is wrong with these DO-GOODERS and their irrational thinking.

    August 6, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. Independent In Albany

    I see a more pleasant shopping experience @ Target in the very near future.

    August 6, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. Eric

    It's about time a large company stands with politicians that are against same-sex marriage. I could care less if you are straight, gay, lesbian, whatever but when it comes to marriage that is only between a man and a woman.

    August 6, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. b. o. stinks

    old george soreass wants to be the richest guy so he tries to bring down big corps I normally dont shop target but now I think I will

    thank you and please petition again

    August 6, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. Hendrik

    I hope that Republicans do not mind this form of protest. They may themselves not participate in this type of protest; they simply slam people who don't see things their way. They call them socialists and communists and fascists, and activist judges, and illegal immigrants, and the Antichrist, and Obozo and Hitler and refer to our President as a monkey. The Republicans may want to learn a bit about decent protest. But wait, there is no decency left in Republicans; sorry for asking.

    August 6, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. ruty

    That's ok–there are PLENTY of others to shop at Target. Gays and lesbies need to get over themselves. There are more of us then you.

    August 6, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. stevegee

    Go ahead and boycott - Target has plenty of loyal shoppers. So all you liberal leftists can Expect Less, Pay More!

    August 6, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  17. All the news that is fit to omit

    Are they against the President who is on record of being against gay marriage?

    " accuses Target of "trying to subvert the will of the people."

    Do you mean the will of the SEVEN MILLION people who voted against it in California of all places or the other 44 STATES (out of 57 of Obama's states) that OVERWHELMINGLY did so as well?

    Many of us agree with the president, NO gay marriage, but Civil unions with all attached right, ALL.

    Jake Tapper asked Obama point blank are you OK with the California law and Barry saif he WAS OK WITH IT, but Axelfraud came out yesterday and LIED that he never said that (ON TAPE, HIS OWN WORDS).

    I excpect to get hammered, I spoke the truth about ME, the Country and Oweblamo. my bad.

    August 6, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  18. oy vey az

    Gays and Birthers and Teabags oh my !

    Sure wish all of us walking down the center line would make a little more noise ... like ... anything ... just make some.

    August 6, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. coy4one

    I will stop shopping at Target just because I don't believe that corporations and special interests should be able to donation to any campaign. Those who are brought out in public don't deserve my business.

    August 6, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. Brian A

    Well, it looks like I will be shopping at Target from now on.

    August 6, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. a prime

    This is from our right wing , top court in this country and the bush people.I will tell you that I will never buy anything from target no matter what.Also you people really need to think about, what going to happen if the gop takes any of the houses back.You need to thinkabout this the republicans put us here.if you think things are bad now just wait and see what happens alp

    August 6, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. PJ

    This is not true anymore. Target has apoligized for donating to that fantatical group – so they are off the hook. Please keep your news current.

    August 6, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Malcolm

    I just found a favorite place to shop! Its Target for me from now on!

    August 6, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. Patrick

    Anyone else remember a time when gays & lesbians just wanted to be accepted on an equal basis with straights? Seems like a long time ago. Militant gays are out to turn the tables on straights and punish them as retribution for perceived injustices in the past. With the full cooperation of sympathetic judges and the courts, you will not be able to shop, eat, travel, or gather without confronting gays wishing to punish you. And don't try to change things with voting either – one gay California judge just trumped 9 million votes with one stoke of a pen.

    August 6, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. Kate

    Okay, so, I am what you might classify as a bleeding heart liberal. I'm all for gay marriage and gay rights. But, this is a little absurd. Target is very vocal about their support of the GLBT community, and was before it was the "in" thing to do. Companies like that contribute billions to different political campaigns and lobbyists. They are not going to agree with every single view of every single politician and lobbyist to whom they contribute.

    Sorry, y'all. Gotta side with Target on this one. Except that I can't seem to get out of there without spending a minimum of $75 dollars. Can we change that?

    August 6, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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