Target CEO: Company Will Be Neutral on Marriage Vote

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com June 08 2011 5:10 PM ET

The CEO of Target told shareholders Wednesday that the company would remain neutral on a proposed anti–marriage equality amendment in Minnesota, the state where Target is based.


During the company's annual stockholder meeting in Pittsburgh, CEO Gregg Steinhafel was asked whether Target would take a stance on next year's Minnesota ballot initiative, which would amend the state's constitution to ban marriage equality.

"Our position at this particular time is that we are going to be neutral on that particular issue, as we would be on other social issues that have polarizing points of view," Steinhafel said, according to St. Paul's  Pioneer Press.

Steinhafel came under fire last year when it was discovered that the company had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to antigay politicians and political groups. Steinhafel apologized for his $150,000 donation to MN Forward, a political action committee that bolstered the campaign of antigay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. The group also has ties to former governor Tim Pawlenty, also an antigay conservative. Months after Steinhafel publicly apologized for the donations, it was revealed that the company had made several more contributions to politicians who oppose gay rights. The contributions led to a national boycott of the retailer.

He told shareholders that Target has changed its policy on political giving since last year and that there will be a more extensive process to screen what groups and politicians receive company-based funding.

The company itself does contribute to pro-gay organizations, like Project 515, which works to ensure equal benefits and protections for gay and lesbian couples in Minnesota. Target also offers domestic-partner benefits to its workers.