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. rcasteel

    @ Dennis

    If the shoe was on the other foot, and target only supported gay candidates, I would stop shopping there.

    being gay is YOUR right. It doesn't mean I have to suck a weeny in support of you.

    August 6, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Tom Watson

    Target Support this candidate because he wants to get rid of the Minimum wage. That way Target can pay it's employees 3 dollars an hour and make lots of profit.
    Tom Emmer also said the tips that restaurant workers get should count towards their wages. THis guys is nuts and only wants to help the rich...

    August 6, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Shucks

    Funny, that pretty much leaves Target's target customers as some of the most racist, bigoted, rednecked one tooth Americans to be found. They'll soon be selling abstinence underwear, guns and ammo, and all soft foods. LOL

    August 6, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. Paul

    You all hate mongers, I wish your son/daughter turns out to be you know who and then you will know...

    August 6, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. billie d

    I think that this is gonna hurt this group financially, way more than they realize....
    Have they done any price comparisons at other reatilers?
    This is going to be a travesty; the price of Ben Gay or whatever it is they use is gonna take some of the shine off of that sucker. that does not bode well for future endeavors....I really think you should maintain quality products.
    I'm just bettin' that your next freind balks at your use marine bearing grease

    August 6, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. MikeMaz

    Total Double standard... How many "family" or religious groups ask people to boycott companies because of there stance on certain issues. If you can do that why cant other groups. Hypocrites

    August 6, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Sal

    Most of you people are missing the whole point of this argument!! First of all businesses and corporations should be prohibited from donating to political parties and politician, period! And the damn supreme court doesn't know it's rear end from it's elbow either by allowing corporations to donate as much as they want! This whole system has got to go! Wake up people including you tea bags or whatever idiots!

    August 6, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. Doug

    Dang, I like Target. I already boycott Walmart. K-Mart better have what I need this weekend.

    August 6, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. a prime

    hey mark are you stupid, with the new laws big business will rule again . the gov is for the people not corps. and I guess your against raising the taxes for the rich. mark do you know that47 % of the country don't pay any taxes thats a fact. so you is the tard here you backwards red neck

    August 6, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. Mark Jeffery Koch

    Perhaps people forget who you are hurting in this horrible economy – the thousands of innocent men and women who work at the Target stores who need the money they earn to put a roof over their heads and food on the table for their families. You are not hurting the executive from the Target corporate office who made the decision to support some candidate but instead the regular working man or woman struggling to make ends meet.

    Boycotts like this are counterproductive and just plain wrong and wind up hurting innocent people for no reason whatsoever. If you don't want to shop at Target, fine, that's your right, but don't try and tell others how they should feel or act.

    August 6, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. MB

    1) Target has apologized to their employees and the public about not investigating the candidate further.

    2) Having spent 10 years of my life working at Target, I can tell you that Target is one of the most diversity-friendly employers out there. HRC consistently scores them at 100% on their where to shop list for GLBT folks. They provide domestic partnership benefits, allow their employees to be "out" at work with no fear of discrimination.

    3) The constitution prohibits the making of laws based on religion. Marriage originates from religion. The Prop 8 ruling is a MILESTONE and it's wonderful that a judge finally ruled banning gay marriage as unconstitutional.

    August 6, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. Jacqui

    I am a Democrat who strongly believes that God disapproves of gay marriages. As people, I love gays. As for what they are doing, I believe it is wrong in the sight of God. This is what the Bible says and I believe that. The Bible has outlasted all men and will outlast this current move.

    I would like to thank the management of Target for standing up for the Word of God. There is a price we all have to pay for standing up for God. He promises that He would cause you to succeed eventually. So I say to you, if you lose some business now, God will bless you in the long term for doing what He commands.

    August 6, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. NoWay

    Walmart is next. So be it.

    August 6, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. KMAN821

    Nothing quite like the mention of "Gays" in an on-line story to get the hate-filled right-wingers AROUSED!

    August 6, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. Tommy in Wilton

    NO MORE TARGET for me.....

    August 6, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. Frenchy

    Nazis are good... gays are bad...

    I'm goin' to Target!!

    August 6, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. Linda Johnson

    Just think...if your boycott is successful you will be responsible for people losing their jobs. But of course you don't care about that...just what directly affects you.

    August 6, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. Four and The Door

    I'm pleased to see Target giving support for economic growth and job creation. These are important for America and Target is a fine company for supporting those issues. Wouldn't it be more important to consider how the company addresses these issues within their organization? Did do their homework there or are they just starved for publicity on the back of a great American company?

    August 6, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Kevin from Co

    I stopped shopping at Target when they refused to let the Salvation Army ring their bells in front of their stores but then donate money to the gays.

    August 6, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. Fred Riek

    I encourage everyone upset by Targets' obvious sentiments based on their contribution to a discriminqtion-based organization to do as I plan to do. I plan to go to one or more Target stores, fill up my shopping cart and take it to the counter for checkout, place the items on the converyor belt, let the cashier ring up the items then ask the cashier to please let their corporate management know that I do not approve of their discrimination donation. Then, I will walk out of the store. If enough people do this, perhaps Target will contribute the same amount or more to the more centrist canidat of the other political party. Shame on you Target.

    August 6, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. JV

    I hadn't planned on shopping at Target this weekend, but I will now!

    August 6, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. NosuchthingasGod

    Huh you are criticizing Move on..
    but did you criticize the AFA ( american family organization) when they want to boycott Sears, Home Depot,
    The Southern Baptist Convention advocates boycotting Disney because of ther "family values" stance.

    Need I go on? Just as these looney conservative groups ask people to boycott... so can liberal groups.....

    August 6, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. Dude

    I pledege to shop more at Target!
    Stand up for freedom of speech!

    August 6, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. John in Dallas

    Target should be held accountable for their actions like anyone else. And the best way to do that, is not purchase from their stores and to sell their stock if you own any. This tactic works for both conservative and liberal causes.

    Welcome to capitalism.

    August 6, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. RkyMtnMan

    Oh Boo Hoo, I'm sure Target is really worried about this situation! Who really cares what a very loud and obnoxious minority want? They have much less stoke than they think.

    August 6, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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