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Friday, December 31, 2010

Equality Michigan Blasts Target for 2010 Anti-Gay Political Donations

By Michael A. Jones -

We learned earlier this month that retail giant Target, despite offering a tepid apology for giving political contributions to anti-gay candidates, continued to give money in support of some of the country's most homophobic politicians all throughout the 2010 election season. Candidates that benefited from Target's largesse?
There's Rep. Michele Bachmann, who compares gay marriage to terrorism and says that same-sex couples are a major threat to American children. There's Sen.-elect Roy Blunt, who wants to rewrite the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage and who wants to keep LGBT people from adopting children. And Rep. John Kline, who earlier this year joined with The 700 Club's Pat Robertson to try and stop same-sex marriage from moving forward in the District of Columbia. Talk about a collection of some fiercely anti-gay politicians.
Target's political contributions became one of the largest stories of 2010, at least in terms of the role of corporations in the American electoral process. And Target let it be known in very clear terms: we don't care if politicians are extremely anti-gay, we have the right to support them anyway.
But that philosophy has cost Target a number of LGBT shoppers. Boycott pages on Facebook are plenty, with tens of thousands of people saying they will no longer send their pink dollars to Target. And now Equality Michigan, a leading organization working on behalf of LGBT rights in Michigan, has come out and condemned Target. They're not calling for an official boycott, per se, but they're saying that it would be wise for LGBT people to take their money elsewhere in order to show Target that supporting anti-gay politicians comes with a price.
“Target, which prides itself on being a family company, defended its initial contributions by saying that their donations were based on a desire to invest in economic development. In Michigan, we know better than most that everything possible needs to be done to promote economic growth and sustainability, and to create healthy, stable communities,” says Emily Dievendorf, policy director at Equality Michigan, according to the Michigan Messenger. “What Target neglected to consider in their support of anti-gay candidates is that public policy makers that work to allow the denial of basic human rights for LGBTQ individuals and families are supporting and compounding economic and social vulnerability – for all citizens.”
Way to thread the needle, Equality Michigan. And way to show that while Target might like to justify their anti-gay donations by saying, "Oh, we're just doing this for economic reasons," that justification just doesn't fly. Dievendorf then put the ultimate punctuation mark on the reason LGBT people should be upset about Target's anti-gay political work.
"If corporations are not willing to consider the implications of the availability of housing, health care, jobs, and parental and spousal rights on the success of their communities, they should refrain from using their profits to weigh in on our selection of political leadership. When corporations do choose to take active roles in political races, they should be prepared to have consumers interpret their support as an indication of their corporate values.”
Darn right. And that's exactly why Target not only owes its LGBT customers an apology for supporting anti-gay candidates, but they owe it to either stop trying to buy elections, or put in place processes that include a candidate's social positions when determining whether they deserve political support.

petition text -

Please stop funding anti-gay politicians

Dear Target,

In recent weeks it was disclosed that Target Corporation had given $150,000 to a Minnesota political action committee that is funding candidates with ties to extremely anti-gay groups. The group in question that Target is funding, Minnesota Forward, has used that money to support a candidate named Tom Emmer.
Mr. Emmer has close ties to a group in Minnesota, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, that advocates violence toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. Indeed, the leader of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, Bradlee Dean, has said that it would be moral and righteous for religious people to commit violence against gay people. And Tom Emmer has consistently supported this group, welcoming them at GOP events, and going on record as calling them "nice."
Does Target agree with this?
I kindly ask you to not only denounce the Minnesota-based group, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, but to also explain how money from Target -- long considered a friend to the gay and lesbian community -- could make its way to a politician that supports a group with such violent and hateful positions.
Thanks for your time.

[Your name here] 


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