Emmer concedes; Target doesn’t

Posted on 08 Dec 2010 at 5:02pm

Target Retail StoreRepublican Tom Emmer finally conceded defeat to Democrat Mark Dayton in the Minnesota governor’s race. Although behind by 9,000 votes, the homophobic Emmer still thought he should have won.

The race gained national attention when Target and Best Buy made substantial donations to a PAC that supported Emmer. Although they claimed they supported Emmer for his position on lower taxes, LGBT groups jumped on the candidate’s extreme anti-gay views. He called one person who called for death to gays “a nice guy,” for example.

Target has refused to budge on its position, however. The Human Rights Campaign spoke to representatives of the company over the summer to encourage them to make equal donations to LGBT groups. Negotiations broke down and the company has not responded or supported LGBT groups in any significant way since then.

HRC’s rating of Target in the Corporate Equality Index was lowered from 100 percent to 85 percent in the latest listing.

The last reference to the LGBT community on Target’s corporate website is dated Aug. 6, 2010:

Target Response to Prop 8 Inaccuracies

In response to inaccurate claims that Target made donations in support of Proposition 8, Target has issued the following statement: Target did not, nor has the company ever, knowingly donated to legislation or referendums that aim to undermine equality for all, including Proposition 8 in California.  Further, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company.

But the link on that page to “Target’s Civic Activity and Political Contributions” is now a dead link, and references to the company’s diversity no longer has LGBT-related items. However, sexual orientation and gender identity remain in the company’s nondiscrimination policies.

HRC is still calling on Target to “make it right.”

“There’s no real update,” HRC spokesman Michael Cole told us.

Cole said the company and the organization have had no discussions since they ended over the summer and noted that making the donation lowered the company’s CEI score.

Minneapolis-based Target is usually a sponsor of Twin Cities Pride. So far, for their 2011 Pride celebration, only travel sponsors are listed on the group’s website. When the controversy first broke in June, Target’s president pointed to its sponsorship of Twin Cities Pride as an example of its commitment to the LGBT community. Delta Airlines, Hampton Inn and several other providers are already listed as travel partners for the event.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change Conference will be held in Minneapolis in February. Three Dallas-based companies — Southwest Airlines, AA.com/Rainbow and Chili’s — are listed among other major corporate supporters of the annual event, which will be held one block from Target corporate headquarters.

Russell Roybal of NGLTF said discussions with Target are ongoing. However, the LGBT Business Council, Target’s LGBT employee group, has been actively soliciting volunteers for the conference and will be a major presence there, he said.

The Minnesota governor’s race was of particular importance to the LGBT community because advocates felt the state might be the next battleground for same-sex marriage. But that is unlikely now given the outcome of the November elections, when Republicans took over power in the Minnesota Legislature.

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