Target balks at counter contribution to gay rights groups

  • Article by: JACKIE CROSBY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 16, 2010 - 10:20 PM

Retailer won't give to groups supporting gay rights candidates, despite recent dustup over donation to group backing Emmer.

The country's largest gay rights organization railed against Target Corp. Monday after the retailer ended talks related to its $150,000 donation to a group backing Republican Tom Emmer for governor.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), based in Washington, D.C., said after "two weeks of good-faith discussions, and two tentative agreements," Target decided not to contribute to groups supporting gay-rights candidates in Minnesota, as the HRC had sought.

"All fair-minded Americans will now rightly question Target's commitment to equality," said HRC president Joe Solmonese in a statement. "If their initial contribution was a slap in the face, their refusal to make it right is a punch in the gut and that's not something that we will soon forget."

In a statement, Target said: "Given the current political and emotionally charged environment, we have concluded that it is best to wait before taking further external action regarding our MN Forward contribution. We believe that it is impossible to avoid turning any further actions into a political issue and will use the benefit of time to make thoughtful, careful decisions on how best to move forward.

"We remain committed to the GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] community and will continue to seek thoughtful ways to demonstrate the strong support for inclusiveness that we have held throughout our history."

The HRC also is in private talks with Best Buy, which gave $100,000 to MN Forward, a political action committee founded by Gov. Tim Pawlenty's chief of staff and backed by Republican-leaning business groups. MN Forward, which supports some DFL candidates, has produced television ads for Emmer, who is opposed to gay marriage and is running on a pro-business, anti-tax platform.

Target and Best Buy say their donations, which came directly from corporate coffers under a new Supreme Court ruling, were driven by business reasons.

Best Buy couldn't be reached or comment.

HRC spokesman Fred Sainz said "the door is still open" at Best Buy, noting that "it is a conversation, not a demand."

"I hope [Best Buy] will understand that corrective action is important here, and that repair has to be commensurate with the harm."

As for Target, which is in the process of getting approvals to open two stores in San Francisco, the birthplace of the gay rights movement, Sainz said HRC's "role in this chapter in the story is over. That is not to say this issue is over for Target."

HRC said it would donate $150,000 "to elect a pro-equality governor and legislature in Minnesota." Details are still being worked out, but Sainz said the group will support DFLer Mark Dayton and other candidates.

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335

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