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. JustCurious

    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.....

    August 6, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. SonnyRey, Maryland

    If they boycott all the food stores, they can starve. Good riddance. G-R-E-A-T! (Hey, I don't hate 'em – I just don't like 'em and I don't and 'em aound!)

    Long live Target !!!

    August 6, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. MJN

    Where's the nearest target...I've got some shopping to do. I love how everyone wants free speech, except when they don't like it.

    August 6, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Mike from KC

    I find it interesting to see the comments about people being happy there will be no gays at Target.
    You might be surprised that the person you ask for help at Target is gay/lesbian, or how many of your neighbors are gay.
    We are everywhere. We are your banker, accountant, CEO, housekeeper, hairstylist, grocer, butcher, little league coach, teacher, school board member, fast food employee, IRS agent, minister, etc
    We come from all walks of life, all races, all socio-economic levels, all levels of education.
    First and foremost we are human beings, just like you. If you take the time to actually get to know the person behind the stereotype, you would be surprised to find that we are not all that different from you.
    Try putting your prejudice, and bigotry aside and get to know us.

    August 6, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. lost in america

    just shows how much hatred exist in the world........

    August 6, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Susan

    This is stupid! What next, retail is struggling and just because you don't agree, you start something to hurt it more. Target does allot of good things and I will continue to shop there more.

    August 6, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Smegma Palin

    I can't imagine any gays ever shopped at Target anyway. Aren't they supposed to have really good taste?

    August 6, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Brad

    Michael, I feel sorry for you. God (the real one) loves all people equally. Even your bigoted, ignorant self.

    August 6, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Get A Grip

    Always have and always will be a Target to shop at Target now.

    August 6, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. g.i. jane

    Does not believe in a free society where everyone's
    opinions should be considered? Do gay people only believe in
    freedom of belief for themselves? Are heterosexuals the only com-
    passionate people left on our streets?

    August 6, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    Mark from Louisiana – Libtards? Really? What are you, 12?

    When the Supreme Court gave corporations the right to sink UNLIMITED amounts of cash into elections, in an attempt to sway public opinion, they opened the door for us to boycott said corporations. Is it only your side that has rights? Seriously? Aren't we all in this together? What is it you want, less taxes, less corporate control, yadda yadda? How well did that work out for you? Is that what you want to go back to? Failed policies of the past 30 years? Good grief!

    August 6, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. Kevin from Co

    @ KMAN821 They have donated to the gays in the past dimwit. It just not in this artical. Do some research before posting sparky.

    August 6, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. NosuchthingasGod

    commonsense August 6th, 2010 4:57 pm ET
    It's creepy in America when a business suffers because
    that business supports marriage between a man and a woman.
    Has anyone ever considered if everyone in the world became gay
    tonight, the human race would cease to exist in roughly 85 years

    yeah commonsense because thats how it works.. people just choose to be gay

    August 6, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. Fred

    So let me get this right. The homosexual population wants their rights under the law of the land. The law of the land state that corporations can give to politicians. But the homosexuals are now mad that the person the corporations endorse does not endorse gay rights? Can no one have an opinion or a fundamental belief that disagrees with anyone else without being called racist and bigoted? Everyone is so damn sensitive! Ooo don't say that. You hurt my feelings. I should sue you. You are prejudiced against me. Please agree with what I do. Guess what? I don't. I believe in what I believe. Do I hate homosexuals? Absolutely not. Do I hate homosexuality? Absolutely. No legislation, protest, boycott, name calling or anything else is going to make me change my mind. I don't care about your progressive opinions about sex. Disagreeing with homosexuality is NOT the same as equal rights for minorities I don't care how you spin it. No one went to the Gay island, drug you away from your family and home land and forced you to be something you are not. Now before you pro-gay rights people start screaming at me, I have a brother in-law who is gay. Do I agree with his lifestyle? Nope. He knows and respects that. But I love him like a brother and probably keep in contact with him more than his blood family. We all have a right to our opinions and beliefs. That is what makes America..... America.

    August 6, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. Dolores

    I find all this quite humerous. Most of you who are rallying around Target since you think this is all about gay, liberal, anyone who is different than you bashing, are ignorant.

    The reason Target gave the 150k to the politicial campaign wasn't to make a statement against gays or liberals, Target could care less what your sexual orientation is or your political preference. What they are interested in is keeping more of the money you spend there and doing so by having the minimum wage lowered. Unfortunately most of you are too blinded by your hatered to pay attention to the issues, so keep up the hate talk and shop at Target, but please keep your ignorant thoughts to yourself as there is more than enough ignorance and hatred to go around already.

    August 6, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. get real

    Looks like commonsense needs some common sense. Your alarmist crazy talk isn't scaring anyone.

    So, let's continue with your line of logic for fun. Let's just say for hypothetical purposes that in the year 3000 everyone is gay. Don't you think we could use today's technology that infertile couples use all the time to get pregnant and continue with the human race.

    Anyway, there have been gay people since the beginning of time. I just think they should be allowed to live their lives, love and marry whomever they choose. What difference does it make if we allow gay people to marry? It doesn't threaten my marriage in any way. PERIOD!

    August 6, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. NosuchthingasGod

    Michael August 6th, 2010 4:55 pm ET
    It's days like these that I hope (actually wait) for religion to be proven true. Then God can boycott the GLBT community. Kick out some of the illegal immigrants from the store too Target, and I'll be there daily.

    Yeah Im sure that will happen any day now geek.....

    August 6, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. Not Stupid

    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

    August 6, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  19. Shucks

    Now, most of their customers can be called Target Baggers.

    August 6, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  20. Jim

    Question? Know what the latest gay pick-up line in a bar is? Answer: "Can I push that stool in for ya'?"

    August 6, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  21. Guy

    It seems the 'old guard' management at Target is trying to hold on to old values/perceptions that aren't relevant today...too bad...get with the have new customers with different values/beliefs.

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

    g i jane – when gay people decide to fight to take away the right of us heterosexuals to marry, then you can talk.

    Did you say the same thing about people who fought to overturn the bans on interracial marriage?

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

    In one contribution, Target has alienated every family with gay, lesbian or transgender family members. That is at least ten percent of the American population. The negative potential to their bottom line is evident. I doubt if they did a risk-benefit analysis before making the contribution. If they had, they would have reconsidered the wisdom of the donation. Target, if you want to make this right, you need to make a very public apology while announcing a substantial contribution to PFLAG.

    August 6, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  24. Donnatella

    I love it!!!

    August 6, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  25. nanna

    I don't think any group should dictate who they have to donate to; and as for the Gay Issue it seems they are shoving it down everyone's throat. Do what you want behind closed doors but it isn't right to shove your beliefs off on everyone else and also want laws passed just for you. This will next be leading to telling every religious group out there how christians are to think and preach and act.

    August 6, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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