Target changes giving policy that led to boycott

Target has changed its corporate donation policy more than six months after LGBT groups criticized the company for donating $150,000 to Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who said he thought someone who said it was OK to kill gay people was a nice guy.

The new policy involves a committee of senior executives overseeing donations to parties and candidates.

Since the donation was made, Human Rights Campaign tried to negotiate a comparable donation to LGBT groups, but the company broke off talks. Many members of the LGBT community stopped shopping at Target and HRC deducted 15 points from Target’s Corporate Equality Index score.

The LGBT Creating Change conference was held just blocks from Target’s Minneapolis headquarters this month. Creating Change organizers approached Target about sponsoring the conference, but the company declined. However, employees from Target corporate headquarters volunteered at the conference.

Best Buy, which is also based in Minneapolis and also made a large donation to the PAC supporting Emmer, the anti-gay Republican running for Minnesota governor, was a sponsor of Creating Change.

Target says its has supported Twin Cities Pride in the past and plans to continue doing so. The company also says it will contribute to gay Pride celebrations in San Francisco and Chicago.

Ironically, the political donation may have backfired for the candidate as well.  The money Target gave to Emmer may have energized enough people in the LGBT community to vote for Mark Dayton, the Democrat who won the election by a slim margin.

—  David Taffet

Maryland senator does a 180 on gay marriage

Sen. Jim Brochin

Maryland State Sen. Jim Brochin, a Democrat, used to say that while he supported civil unions for same-sex couples, he did not support full marriage rights for those couples. This week, he changed his mind and said he will vote for legislation giving full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Why? Because he listened.

First of all, Brochin listened to the stories of same-sex couples when they testified during public hearings in favor of the proposed Religious Marriage and Civil Marriage Protection Act. But most importantly, he listened to those who testified against the bill. And he was appalled by what he heard.

“The people who are against the bill, all they did was demonize homosexuality, call them pedophiles, androids, and I just, I can’t oppose the bill and be on the same side as people who would do that,” Brochin told AM 630 WMAL radio in explaining his change of heart. “It’s destructive, it’s insulting to the same-sex families who are trying to raise their kids.”

The bill needs 24 votes to pass the Maryland Senate and 29 to avoid any debate. Brochin’s decision makes him the 21st senator to publicly pledge support, and he said this week he believes the bill has a good chance of passing.

—  admin

Villarreal files Texas ENDA bill

State Rep. Mike Villarreal

Texas state Rep. Mike Villarreal, a Democrat from San Antonio, today announced that he has filed HB 665, which would prevent employment discrimination in Texas based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

According to a statement e-mailed by Villarreal’s office, HB 665 would “end a discriminatory atmosphere that drives away well-educated professionals that would otherwise benefit the Texas economy.” Villarreal said: “Many other states and several large Texas cities have protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It’s time for Texas to join in stopping unfair employment practices that hurt our economy and hard-working Texans.”

According to the press release, Villarreal has filed similar legislation in both of the last two sessions of the Texas Legislature.

HB 665 was filed on Jan. 14.

—  admin

Watch: GOP Audience Gasps as Michelle Bachmann Tells Them She Was Once a Democrat, Worked for Jimmy Carter

Bachmann

At a speech to Michigan Republicans in Troy on Tuesday, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) elicited gasps from the audience as she told them she was once a Democrat.

Michelle Bachmann says she was a "fair-minded Democrat" who worked on Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign (and danced at his inaugural ball before she read a "snotty" novel by Gore Vidal that she perceived as mocking the Founding Fathers.

"And as a reasonable, decent, fair-minded person who happened to be a Democrat, I thought, 'You know what? What he's writing about, this mocking of people that I revere, and the country that I love, and that I would lay my life down to defend — just like every one of you in this room would, and as many of you in this room have when you wore the uniform of this great country — I knew that that was not representative of my country."

"And at that point I put the book down and I laughed. I was riding a train. I looked out the window and I said, 'You know what? I think I must be a Republican. I don't think I'm a Democrat.'"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

The Nooner: Oprah, Minnesota governor’s race, H&M, Clover coffee, Cedar Hill slaying

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Instant Tea’s new midday news briefing, The Nooner™. Here goes nothing:

• Oprah denies she’s a lesbian in interview with Barbara Walters to air Thursday. (Video clip above.)

• Anti-gay, Target-backed Republican Tom Emmer concedes Minnesota governor’s race. Does this mean it’s OK to shop there again?

• Clover coffee arrives at Starbucks on Knox Street.

• H&M to open pop-up store at NorthPark today?

• Arrest of partner in Cedar Hill teacher’s murder a relief for family.

—  John Wright

Transgender candidate Brittany Novotny concedes her race against bigot Sally Kern in Oklahoma

Transgender candidate Brittany Novotny, a Democrat, has conceded her race against Republican Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern.

“Thanks everyone for your support and love this campaign,” Novotny said on Twitter moments ago. “We may not have won tonight, but it’s far from over!”

—  John Wright

Tonya Parker on way to making history

Tonya Parker

Out lesbian candidate Tonya Parker appears well on her way to making history tonight. Parker, a Democrat who’s running for the 116 Judicial District seat, would be the first openly LGBT person elected judge in Dallas County. She would also be the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the county’s history.

Parker led Republican Mike Lee by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent, or 106,447 votes to 103,039, after early voting. Her advantage was larger than most other Democrats in Dallas County.

Another openly gay candidate, Pete Schulte, was way behind in the race for the District 108 state House seat. Republican incumbent Dan Branch led Schulte by a margin of 67 percent to 31 percent, or 9,686 votes to 4,526. Libertarian Jarrett R. Woods had 2 percent, or 266 votes.

—  John Wright

HRC still calling on Target to ‘Make it right’

Target Retail StoreA reader wrote to me last week and said that he and his boyfriend are continuing to boycott Target, and he requested an update.

I contacted Paul Guequierre, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, who said the organization is still calling on Target to “Make it right.”

At issue was Target’s $150,000 donation to MN Forward, a political action committee supporting the candidacy of anti-gay Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

Guequierre said HRC has staff in Minnesota working for the Mark Dayton campaign. Dayton is the Democrat opposing Emmer, a Republican.

“Minnesota could be the next state to have marriage equality,” Guequierre said.

But he said that will only happen with Dayton as governor. Currently, Dayton is ahead in the polls.

Target’s parent company was originally called Dayton-Hudson and candidate Dayton, whom Target opposes, comes from the store’s founding family.

Guequierre said if Dayton wins, “Target will have to ask themselves if it was worth it. Their reputation within the community has changed.”

Personally, since being asked to leave a local Target for asking questions while trying to cover this story, I’ve stayed away and am unlikely to go back. I don’t shop where the LGBT community is not welcome, but I really avoid stores where I’ve been thrown out. (The offensive question: Has the LGBT boycott of Target affected your store at all?)

Target once received a perfect score of 100 percent in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. This year, the company had 15 points deducted because of the political contribution and its refusal to make it right.

Best Buy also made a large donation to MN Forward and has not made it right either.

But Guequierre said HRC has never called for a boycott.

“Both companies treat their LGBT employees right,” he said.

So there is no HRC-sanctioned boycott, but many members of the LGBT community have decided to find other places to shop.

—  David Taffet

N.Y. ousts 2 anti-equality Democrats

Hiram Monserrate

David Taffet  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

While Tea Party upsets in New York’s Republican primaries topped that state’s primary election news on Tuesday, the LGBT community scored two victories as well.

Two Democrats that blocked the passage of marriage equality in the New York Senate were turned away by their party.

Most notorious was Hiram Monserrate. After voting in Albany to protect traditional marriage as it’s been known since Biblical times, he had to rush back to Queens for sentencing on a domestic violence charge. He had already been found guilty of assaulting his live-in girlfriend.

Monserrate was thrown out of the Senate after his sentencing but he was trying to make a comeback in this election. New York’s LGBT community had targeted his race as well as that of Pedro Espada.

Espada is a Bronx Democrat who also voted against marriage equality. He lost his race by a 2-to-1 margin.

With these two out of the Senate, marriage equality could come to New York in the next session of their legislature. Currently, New York recognizes marriages performed elsewhere.

—  David Taffet

Congressman’s office reaches out to gay couple separated by immigration law

Aurelio Tolentino, left, and his partner, Roi Whaley

On Friday, we posted this blog about Roi Whaley and his partner, Aurelio Tolentino. Just to catch you up Tolentino, a registered nurse from the Philipines, had come to the U.S. on a work visa and met Whaley in a support group for people with HIV. When he applied for his green card, the federal government learned Tolentino had HIV and, under a policy that has since been revoked by President Barack Obama, officials told Aurelio he would have to leave the country.

Tolentino applied for asylum, since he had already faced violence in his home country because of his sexual orientation and would probably face more if he went back. But that was denied. So he went to Canada to stay with his mother and applied for asylum there. That, too, was denied and he now faces the prospect of having to return to the Philipines. And at the same time, Whaley has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He is visiting Tolentino in Canada this month, but unless something changes, it will likely be the last time the two partners are able to see each other.

Whaley, with the assistance of Immigration Equality, had asked his congressman, Democrat Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis, Miss., for help in getting a humanitarian parole that would allow T0lentino back into the U.S. to be with Whaley in his final months. But Taylor’s office had refused.

That seems to have changed now. Steve Ralls with Immigration Equality called me this morning to let me know that after we posted the earlier blog about the couple’s plight, Taylor’s office has reached out to Whaley to try and help.

“We heard from Taylor’s office today (Tuesday, Sept. 7). He has reached out to Roi and said they want to work with him to see how they can best help him,” Ralls said. “We hope that [Taylor] will work with Roi’s attorney here at Immigration Equality on finding a way for Aurelio to be here in this country with Roi. It is a very positive step forward.”

Of course, if Whaley and Tolentino had been able to be legally married, or even if the U.S. had dropped its antiquated rule on allowing HIV-positive immigrants and visitors into the country earlier, this wouldn’t be such a problem. But for now, let’s just hope that Taylor and Immigration Equality can find a way for these two people who love each other to be together when they need each other most.

—  admin