Emmer concedes; Target doesn’t

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.

—  David Taffet

Gay backlash over Robert Rowling’s donations spreads from Gold’s Gym to Omni Hotels

We’ve been saying all along that if the LGBT community is going to get pissed off at Gold’s Gym over Robert Rowling’s political contributions, the community should be equally pissed at Omni Hotels. Rowling is the CEO of TRT Holdings, which owns both Gold’s Gym and Omni Hotels. Well, it appears as though some media outlets that have been covering this story are finally beginning to pick up on this fact. The Huffington Post even points to our coverage of Omni’s decision to offer domestic partner benefits at the city of Dallas’ convention center hotel:

But TRT Holdings also owns the Omni Hotels, which may be facing increased heat in the coming days.

“We’re concerned about the massive infusion in corporate money being poured into campaigns in an effort to influence the governance of the country,” says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “This is extremely disturbing to many, including ourselves. As for the Omni Shoreham, we have used it in the past as an event venue, but have no current plans to do so. We do take such issues into consideration when looking at venue options.”

The Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C. is a popular hotel and venue for conferences and events, and just one of several dozen of the brand’s locations.

This is not the first time the Omni Hotels have been embroiled in controversy over LGBT issues. Last year, a Dallas Omni chain agreed to offer domestic partner benefits in response from city officials and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

“The Human Rights Campaign has not used an Omni Hotel in a long time,” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications and marketing. “We also have no plans to boycott the hotel chain. We generally don’t agree with boycott as they impact people well beyond the owners of the hotel.”

While HRC didn’t go as far as the Task Force, it did stress it was “concerned about the influx of a lot of anonymous money into this election.” Omni did not return The Huffington Post’s request for comment.

—  John Wright

HRC to Target and Best Buy: ‘Make it Right!’

Below is the press release that just came across. After the jump, we’ve posted the open letter that accompanied it. To sign the letter, go here.

HRC Message to Target and Best Buy: Make it Right!

Nation’s Largest LGBT Rights Organization Condemns Political Contributions Supporting Anti-Equality Candidate

Washington – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today condemned donations by Target and Best Buy to a political committee supporting the election of an anti-equality candidate and asked them to make it right by contributing to groups that support pro-equality candidates.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, Minnesota-based retailers Target and Best Buy, among others, contributed a combined $250,000 to MN Forward, an independent expenditure committee advocating for the election of a strident opponent of LGBT equality as the state’s next governor. The same candidate sings the praises of a Christian rock band that advocates violence and death to gays. The state’s next governor will have the opportunity to either sign or veto legislation allowing for marriage equality in the North Star State.

“It’s a huge slap in the face to LGBT people and for that matter to all fair-minded Americans,” said Joe Solmonese, HRC president. “Two of our most trusted brands have contributed shareholder money that could help elect a candidate that wants nothing but the worst for us. Both companies talk about this contribution as a business decision. I would offer that it’s a really bad business decision. Both companies have now earned the bad will of LGBT people and fair-minded Americans. They need to make it right.”

This afternoon, HRC will send out a national email alert to its members and supporters asking them to sign on to an Open Letter to Target and Best Buy. The letter chronicles the outrage and asks both companies to make equivalent donations to groups that support pro-equality candidates. HRC has also purchased a full page ad featuring the letter in Sunday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune. Corporations mindful of the perceptions of LGBT and allied consumers should take notice of the controversy surrounding these political contributions.

Both companies have consistently received a 100 percent rating on the HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, a measure of workplace equality. “What makes this all the more astounding is that both companies have been model employers for LGBT people,” said Solmonese. “They have some fence-mending to do.”

—  John Wright