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. Lori should do just that – MOVE ON! So sick of this!!!!

    August 6, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. Greg Gilbert

    Never understood the idea behind boycotts. I got a great idea! Lets try to stifle ideas and differences of opinion. We'll make the world a better place.

    August 6, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. Karl in Charleston,SC

    And doesn't try to influence elections????

    August 6, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. treys11

    They don t care about gays, if ur an employee ur spouse can use ur discount, but if ur gay they make a big deal about ur partner using it. If they make a big deal over such insignificant crap they i believe they would. They are basically a WALMART jr. And they hate UNIONS

    August 6, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Jerry

    I'll try to spend a little more at Target this weekend to make up for a person that's boycotting. I have plently of room in my gas guzzling SUV for the extra bags. Hopefully more will do the same! BTW, I just assumed all liberals shopped on-line.

    August 6, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. lori

    why is it that all the spiteful, hateful horrid name calling is coming out the mouths of the conservatives making comments on this story? If you don't want progressives calling you tea baggers don't go calling them libtards. It works both ways.

    As for Target, I won't be shopping there- the group that they gave their donation to is horrible and against everything that I stand for, and their anti union stance is shameful.

    Target has every right to give that donation (now) and I have every right to make sure they don't get another dime of my hard earned money.

    August 6, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Chuck

    I hope the gays come back to Target, but those "others" can stay away in my opinion.....

    August 6, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. chad

    Target is going to be gay and lesbie free, sweet. Target will see more of my business thanks to gays/lesbies.

    August 6, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Stuart

    It is nearly impossible to find a candidate to support that feels as you do on all issues. Sometimes you have to prioritize. Given the current economic climate, economic recovery and job creation outweighed the gay marriage issue for Target. Target is a business and I think they did the right thing in putting business reasons first. What is better: more people, gay and straight alike, out of work and struggling to get by, while waiting for advancements in gay rights, or more foks with jobs and income, while working on advancements in gay rights that might take a little longer to achieve?

    August 6, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    So it's okay when unions try to buy the elections of Democrats, but it's somehow wrong when a corporation tries to buy the election of a Republican?

    Unbelievable hypocrisy!

    As far as I'm concerned, it's tantamount to bribery for any organisation to make "contributions" to any candidate, regardless of party. After all, the Constitution starts of with "We the people of the United States..." not "We the corporations and unions of the United States..."

    August 6, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. USA Makingme sick

    I'll shop at Targets now, no gays, great. Too hell with the gay people living in SIN. If you don't think this is appropriate, stick it up your @$$. Then you can blow it out your @$$ and clear your mind. If CNN doesn't print it, your not American. Straight, cleancut Americans RULE!!!

    August 6, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. Ed

    Thanks for the reminder. I need to stop by Target on the way home from work today. Thank God for Target. They always seem to have what I need. Don't know what I'd do without Target.

    August 6, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. paulbark

    When companies make political contributions, this is the risk they run. Target has a right to contribute. Those who are offended are doing exactly the right thing by boycotting.

    August 6, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. -

    Love Target! will continue to shop there!

    August 6, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. Mo

    Boycott this.. If Moveon and Gays are against them I will definitely do more business with Target. Get a life you bunch a freakin losers..

    August 6, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. regans debt

    I find it mind-boggling that in the 21st century, in a country that celebrates its so-called freedoms, that homophobia is so publicy accepted. The ignorance that still exsists is this country is sad.
    Signed: a straight guy.

    August 6, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. deb

    Oh gee....gays are boycotting Target. Who's gonna buy all our stock of KY and soft, fluffy bath towels.

    August 6, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. W. Edward Griffith

    Would be the pot or the kettle today? To launch a campaign against one corporation in a vast pool of so many, with the suggestion that one corporation can buy an election, is both laughable and shows the poor grasp of our political process by the's leadership. Our country is a capitalist one and despite the best efforts of it will remain so.

    August 6, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. Dennis

    Yes Boycott Target. Target can't have it both ways. If they want our Gay money than they should support us, and you right wing wacko's it about equal rights for all Americans, what if the shoe was on the other foot, so stop supporting Target and get with the program.

    August 6, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. normajean

    Why is it when a group, or organization starts to make a good deal of progress, they then proceed to take an attitude. There is still a large segment of our society that takes a dim view of this complete subject and have previously shown strong feelings against any progress. Now that feelings are opening up and society is beginning to try to be more open minded and understanding, this act of political policy is just a step backward. I for one do not condone this action any more than I would if someone actually tried to hurt someone who was gay. Stay out of this kind of nonsense.

    August 6, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Texas

    Marriage is between a woman and...word of God says so!!!!!!!!

    August 6, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. Fuyko

    My target is the best place to shop in town. I will continue to go there regardless of who the owners donate money too. I like the store.

    August 6, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Future expat

    I won't be shopping at Target, not so much because of the boycott, but because of the counter-boycotters who'll turn it into a hillbilly hate haven.

    August 6, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. Jerry - Florida

    Move-on, if you are so disenchanted with this country, why don't you and your moronic bunch move to another country, if they will accept you, of course. If you want to continue residing in the good, old USA, stop trying to impose your odd behavior on the majority of Americans.

    That would certainly make us, the majority, REAL HAPPY. Oh, and PLEASE, PLEASE, take the bunch of oddities with you.

    Let free enterprise flourish...

    May the Lord help America!

    August 6, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. supes2k1

    Publicity stunt by Target was out in front of this, saying that they regret the donation. And now it's time to move on. They can't get the donation back. They can't change the guy's political viewpoint. They already contribute to pro-LGBT causes. Get over it.

    August 6, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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