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. Shari from Madison WI

    I am all for Gay marriage rights as I believe that it is discrimatory for one group of people to be denied the same rights as another group, but I'm not going to boycott Target because I believe they made an honest mistake by doing this. They didn't consider the consequences and I believe they didn't mean to hurt anyone.

    August 6, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. JK Ashburn, VA

    Good to know. Now I know where to shop to 1) avoid the crowds and 2) support a company that does good work.

    August 6, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  3. gt

    thats a hick up....all hat ,,they will never miss a dime... sounds like a jessie jackson shake down...

    August 6, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Victim of Puritan-Fascists

    Where's the proof that Target intentionally made political contributions to be used for an anti-gay agenda? This is much to do about nothing unless there is tangible and specific evidence. MN is the corporate HQ of Target. Maybe they just wanted to support someone that would act in their best interests? Wow this is getting ridiculous. Moveon has lost their focus and should be doing something more useful.

    August 6, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Ejmounsey Granville Ohio

    I have been a frequent customer of Target. I ask that you rescind your donation, and do not give it to any political party or institution but instead to your lowest paid workers. They will spend it and improve the economy thereby creating more jobs.

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

    I hate Target until now. Going shopping!

    August 6, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Lou

    I'm going to Target right now to buy stuff.

    August 6, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. DaMan

    Gays boycotting Target? EXCELLENT!!!! They can stay out for all I care.

    August 6, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Kate

    ...HOWEVER, all of you homophobes need to JUST SHUT UP!!!

    Anyone who thinks that homosexuality is something to overcome has probably made an attempt at overcoming it. I know homosexuality isn't a choice. I certainly couldn't choose it. I am a girl and I like boys. If you are a boy who thinks that they could "choose" being with a boy...well, that means you're gay. Girls who could "choose" to be with another girl are lesbians. If you fall into any of those categories, you are homosexual.

    It seems like I'm explaining the obvious here, but some people need it broken down in the most basic terms.

    Closet-case Nazi freak shows make me physically ill.

    August 6, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. otoko

    Have also heard that Best Buy is on the same platform with Target.

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

    Gays, others boycott Target Co.- Uh oh. Not just gays, but "others," too. Target's done.

    August 6, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Blaum

    Boycott unless it's money for you.......

    have fun with the boycott, kids.....


    August 6, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. honestmistake

    This is a joke, right?

    August 6, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. andy

    Wow..what a joke..the founder of has tried to buy more election than anyone. Move On is a liberal web site for people who are incable of thinking for themselves. Any group that associates itself with moveon is a waste of time so lets all shop at Target.......

    August 6, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Shane

    I'm a Target shopped from now on. DItto on Obama being against gay marriage.

    August 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Michelle from Omaha

    Regardless of the issue at hand...this boycott will be a bust if participants find themselves forced to shop...gulp...Walmart in lieu of Target! One trip to Wally-world will end the boycott!

    August 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. RH of WI

    It's so good to know that the first 7 posters aren't bigots. It's heartwarming to see that some have lumped all gays and lesbians into the "liberal leftists" bowl. I applaud non-discriminatory words like"lesbies" that are used in order to further acceptance. And my favorite, "Gays and Birthers and Teabags oh my !". What can one say at such articulate banter? Bravo! Bravo one and all! You are what America is all about. Ignorance, stupidity and bigotry...Bravo!

    August 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. useraccount

    Target was a gold sponsor contributor to the Twin Cities pride event held in the downtown Minneapolis area. Do you really think a huge company like Target would NOT swing both ways on an issue like this? (Sorry for the pun) So why wasn't that news? Do you think all those conservatives would be swinging by Target's page to support them on that??

    August 6, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. bill

    That's pretty gay!

    August 6, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. Bob

    Will continue to spend the same amount of money at Target as I did before. Boycotts never work and never last. They are a CORPORATION, not a political entity. Get over it folks.

    August 6, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Ken

    I wonder what these people will complain and campaign against next. Can I suggest Walmart? I'd love to see them be a little less busy. Easier for my family to shop.

    August 6, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  22. Joel

    What about Target's give of approx $3,300 to fund the Prop 8 campaign? Why wasn't that mentioned here. Clearly Target does not like gays.

    August 6, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. JP sees the contribution as Target's attempt to "buy elections." Unlike the unions or trial lawyers who contribute even more than corporations that is way we got stuck with a clueless community organizer in the white house. I am sure that the notion of supporting a candidate that is "focused on job creating" seems abhorrent to a socialist organization. Next time I need an item I am going

    August 6, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. 10001nyc

    I can't support Target if they do not support equal rights for all Americans.

    August 6, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. RH of WI

    To Patrick – I have the same problem. Hetrosexuals confronting gays and "wishing to punish you". Funny how that works both ways isn't it?

    August 6, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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