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. David M.

    I will now be shopping at Target more than ever. What a load of bull this is from moveon. I suppose if Target had made a contribution to moveon, then they would have been singing the praises. What a bunch of hypocites. Do what your name says and MOVE ON! As in just go away.

    August 6, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Fee Fee

    Moveon needs to move on. Bullies!!!

    August 6, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  3. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Target sells American flags made in China. That's enough to make me want to boycott their crap.

    August 6, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  4. Parkerman

    I am sure Target did not mean to endorse anti gay by contributing to this candidate. Most likely like mosrt businesses they contributed to a candidate whose platform appears to help businesses and corporations. I for one am a small business owner and usually endorse candidates that will help me keep afloat, by lowering my taxes and reducing impact on my expenses to support a growing number of services being put on the backs of small business. This is way overblown and and I will not boycott Target, because they did not intend to be antigay. They may not even of known that candidates stance and most likely didn't care about that part of it.

    August 6, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Jasonk

    Boycott doesn't hurt them much. If you want to hurt them buy from them then open the item mutilate it and then return it back. Even though this sounds dirty they are not playing fair either. Target: the hate store

    August 6, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  6. Alan

    If I don't buy from a gay owned business I am homophobic so I guess this makes all of the boycotters HETEROPHOBICS!!

    PLEASE stop all of hate!! PLEASE!! blah blah blah I'm so sick of this crap! I'm sure that Target could give a rats a%$ if buys from them or not.

    August 6, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. MarylandMom

    I will be sure to step up my shopping at Target and spend more of my dollars there. Thankfully, there are enough decent people left in this country to try and make a stand for family values and decency. Go Target! I will pour more of our family's dollars into your business thanks to this article.

    August 6, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Drew

    Alright! Target here I come! I'll give you my business for supporting a candidate with morals. Thank you.

    August 6, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. Bette from Georgia

    I am sick of these special interest groups thinking they can decide things for everyone else. All the more reason to shop at Target!!

    August 6, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. Dave in Connecticut

    Good bye Walmart, hello Target. I will be giving Target allot more of my business, especially at Christmas time. Keep that CEO in charge he has a good christian based head on his sholders. They ought to make an island or country specifically for gay people where they can make their own laws and stop spending tax payers money to repeal laws that normal individuals cherish (e.g. Marriage).

    August 6, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. Tom Polash

    Good to know. I'll be doing ALL my shopping at Target.

    August 6, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Gary, Los Angeles

    Great. That means I'll be able to shop at my favorite store without the 250,000 other people there. Get off yourselves people!

    August 6, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  13. ToddMac

    I shopped at Target yesterday before I heard about this. I guess now I'll have to go back tonight and spend some more.

    August 6, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. Steve

    It looks like this country is being ruled by minorities in every aspect; blacks, illegals, gays, welfare people and unions. The majority doesn't count anymore, it's who makes the most noise and the majority pays and falls in line. Great system we have here.

    August 6, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. me

    Tom Emmer has had two DUIs and sponsored a bill to reduce DUI penalties. MN isn't tough enough on DUIs.

    August 6, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. NosuchthingasGod

    Hmm I wonder what the crazy conservatives in here would say if Target contributed to an politician who was for gun control. I wonder if they would espouse the same line of " They can do what they want and its their right"

    August 6, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Tony

    I've scheduled a vacation to Arizona because of their immigration stance. Guess I'll shop Target while I'm there.

    Too bad about the apology.

    August 6, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Jilli

    I sure hope that campaign donation was worth it.

    I'll take Target off my merchants list.

    August 6, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  19. Senator B

    I can't wait until the gays boycott teaching and learing at small children in the locker rooms and rest rooms of America. There one for ya. How come male coaches can't go into the girls locker room and lesbian women coaches can??? Riddle me that Batman!

    August 6, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. brad

    How do the anti-religious folks always manage to hijack these discussions first?

    August 6, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. Channing Thomson

    I will be shopping at Costco rather than Target and Best Buy,

    August 6, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. James

    I am not shopping at Target. Today alone Target lost over $500 from me! I purchased elsewhere and I will contiune to do so until the money is given back. Tomorrow Target will loose out again on I'm guessing about $300 more from me...

    Shame on Target for supporting hate.

    August 6, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. SurRy

    Virtually every corporation is worried about offending the LGBT community, and losing their spending power. Heck, even AMTRAK (taxpayer-funded rail) is courting the LGBT dollars to the tune of $250K advertising campaign. They know the group has a lot of disposable income! Don't kid yourselves folks, it's all about the mighty dollar.

    August 6, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    Note to moron religio-fascist conservatives: a boycott is a VERY capitalist, "free market" approach for consumers to make their will known to corporations.

    Yes, that means you are a hypocrite if you yammered about "special interest groups thinking they can tell everyone else how to live" or some such other superficial nonsense used to externalize and veil your bigotry.

    August 6, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  25. mms55

    as far as I'm concerned all businesses need to stay out of our election. that's whats wrong with them now!

    August 6, 2010 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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