Is Wyoming the next gay marriage battleground?

State Rep. Cathy Connolly

In the state-by-state march toward marriage equality, four states have been on the radar for possible legalization of same-sex marriage this year. This week, a fifth state became a new possibility.

According to the Billings Gazette, Wyoming State Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, will file two bills. One would legalize same-sex marriage, the other civil unions. Connolly is lesbian.

Wyoming does not have a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. Bills have been filed to change that, and Connolly’s bills are in response.

Like Iowa, where same-sex marriage became legal a few years ago, Wyoming does have a history of equality. When Wyoming was admitted to the union in 1890, it became the first to allow women to vote and was the first to elect a woman governor. (That was 1924 and Texas elected a woman — “Ma” Ferguson — that year as well).

In Wyoming’s 60-seat lower house, only 10 of those seats are held by Democrats. In the Senate, only four out of 30 are Democrats.

Four other states that may consider marriage equality this year are New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and Minnesota.

Of those four, Rhode Island and Maryland are the states where it is most likely to pass. Rhode Island’s new governor favors marriage equality and Democrats hold a strong majority in both houses. Their former governor opposed equality although the state already recognizes marriages performed elsewhere.

Maryland has been studying equality for more than a year and a bill is progressing.

New York recognizes marriages performed elsewhere and two courts have upheld that recognition. The state’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo, supports equality, as did their former governor, but the state Senate has a one-vote Republican majority that may block passage.

In his inaugural speech, Cuomo said, “We believe in justice for all, then let’s pass marriage equality this year once and for all.”

Minnesota’s new governor campaigned as an LGBT ally, countering his opponent’s staunch anti-gay bigotry. Support of the Republican is what led to an unorganized Target boycott. The new Democrat has said he supports marriage equality and would like to see a bill pass.

—  David Taffet

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

Boycott Glenn Beck and make a real difference

OK, I am lukewarm about the Target boycott. I have spoken about this before and won’t go into it again here, but this is a boycott that can really have a sweeping effect. I am talking about Glenn Beck.

This demagogue is spewing hate, not even candy-coated hate, just plain vile raw hatred. He does wrap it in he alleged message of “restoring honor” but everyone knows his meaning: Get America back into the hands of white conservative Christians.

So, what to do? Read this and then click the link and get involved.

Glenn Beck doesn’t just poison the airwaves with hatred. His hatred actually incites violence and murder.

• On 7/18/10, Beck inspired a gunman to attack the little-known Tides Foundation, after demonizing them for 18 months. The gunman got into a massive shootout with police and wounded two of them.

• On 4/4/09, Richard Poplawski murdered 3 Pittsburgh policemen after posting Beck videos on a neo-Nazi website.

• On 4/9/09, Beck poured “gasoline” on an “average American” and asked, “President Obama, why don’t you just set us on fire?”

• On 8/16/09, Glenn Beck dramatized giving Speaker Pelosi a glass of wine with poison.

Join over 60,000 progressive activists who are boycotting Fox News advertisers:

Our boycott of Fox News advertisers is having a huge impact — over 200 advertisers have pulled their ads from Beck’s show. No sane company wants to destroy its brand through association with Glenn Beck’s hate.

— Hardy Haberman, Dungeon Diary

—  John Wright

Target: What do you think?

In today’s Dallas Voice, I wrote an article about the unofficial Target boycott.

I’m not boycotting, but I haven’t been shopping there either, at least until something is resolved.

Yes, the president of the company apologized, but no, he didn’t do anything to show his remorse. The fact that he just hired right-wing Sen. John Thune’s former chief of staff said to me that the donation and sudden sharp turn to the right was intentional.

While researching the story, I stopped by Target in Oak Lawn. In the article I wrote:

Employees at Target at Cityplace refused to say whether or not their business has been affected but told this reporter to leave the store.

Here’s what happened: I approached an employee who did not have any customers nearby. I identified myself as a reporter and said I was working on a story about the boycott of Target. I asked if she’d noticed any difference.

“You need to get out of here now,” she said.

I thanked her and told her she would appear in the paper. And regardless of whether the boycott ends with a happy resolution, I probably won’t be going back to Target anytime soon.

The incident was really no big deal, but it seemed to indicate how on edge everyone at Target is about the issue.

David Ethridge, a gay Dallas man who’s been going after Target, had a lot more to say than what I included in the story.

“I’ve heard several people attempt to defend Target by pointing out its past benevolence to our community,” Ethridge said.

“Here’s the thing: I may help you move or give you a ride to the airport, but if I’m poisoning your tea behind your back, then I’m not your friend. What Target did was short-sighted and indefensible. Its leadership should act like adults, apologize, and make it right, so we can all go back about our business.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have pledged to take their fair-minded money elsewhere, but it’s too early to know what impact that will have long-term. The biggest advantage that Target had over competitors Like Wal-Mart and Kmart was image. The company’s image has been very carefully cultivated with millions of dollars in slick ads and designer collaborations over the years to appeal to a more style-conscious and progressive value shopper. The long-term detriment to the company may lie in the damage to that image.

“Effective social media is crucial to retailers in today’s economy. Target’s Facebook and Twitter pages have been a complete wreck for weeks, with customers screaming back-and-forth at each other. The company’s consumer reviews on sites like Google Maps have taken a dive as well.

“Back-to-school is Target’s second-busiest season. But instead of promoting those products, or their new collections from Shaun White and ‘Punky Brewster,’ they’ve been forced to constantly defend their political contributions. They have to ask themselves if this is all really worth some imagined benefit on a future tax form.”

So what do you think? Are you boycotting? Waiting and seeing? Can’t afford to shop elsewhere since Target generally has the lowest overall prices? Don’t have patience to run all over town to other stores? Or is Target not that convenient to you anyway? And what about Best Buy? We don’t shop there as often, but the LGBT community tends to be loyal Best Buy customers.

NOTE: I just got an e-mail from Paul Schmelzer, editor of the Minnesota Independent. I like to give credit when we know who to credit and Paul broke the story about Tom Emmer and his connection with Bradlee Dean and the Christian band You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. Dean’s the one mentioned in the print article that thinks Muslims have it right with putting gays to death.

—  David Taffet