The controversy surrounding Target Corp.'s $150,000 donation to an organization backing Republican Tom Emmer for governor continues to smolder, despite an apology last week from the CEO.

A Facebook page with more than 58,000 fans is calling for a "national day of protest" today to "send a message to Target that we will not stand by silent while they take from us with one hand and feed those who would oppress us with the other."

The Minneapolis-based retailer has been in private talks with the nation's largest gay-rights advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign, but it's unclear whether the company will take action. The group, based in Washington, D.C., has demanded that both Target and Best Buy make an equal or greater contribution to groups supporting gay-rights candidates in Minnesota.

Fred Sainz, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said Friday there has been an "awful lot of give and take" in discussions with Target and Best Buy, which contributed $100,000 to the same pro-business group, MN Forward, that has produced ads for Emmer.

For Target, the quicker it can put the issue behind it, the better. Gay-rights supporters have threatened to throw a wrench into plans by the nation's second-largest discount chain to build two Target stores in the San Francisco area. Hearings on the stores are scheduled for mid-September.

Two San Francisco officials who represent the areas where Target wants to build told the Los Angeles Times about what the paper described as a recent stormy meeting with Target officials.

Target and Best Buy have both defended their decisions to donate to MN Forward as driven by business interests. Last Thursday, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel told employees he was sorry the decision "affected you in a way I did not anticipate."

Those outraged by the action say Emmer's stance on social issues can't be separated from his views on taxes. Emmer opposes gay marriage and abortion, supports Arizona's immigration law, and previously has proposed chemically castrating sex offenders and steering state money away from AIDS prevention programs.

Sainz noted that Target and Best Buy have been "model employers" for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered workers, earning the HRC's highest ratings.

The group is reviewing companies for an updated "corporate equality index." Sainz said "both companies have a fair amount of fence-mending to do."

Jackie Crosby • 612-673-7335