T-Shirt Sales for Pro-Equality Group Put Target in Right Wing's Sights

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com June 01 2012 5:30 PM ET

Activists pushing Minnesota’s anti–marriage equality constitutional amendment are upset with retailer Target for selling T-shirts that benefit a pro-LGBT group.

Target, based in Minneapolis, is selling T-shirts with slogans such as “Harmony,” “Pride” and “Love Is Love” online throughout June, which is Gay Pride Month, and donating 100% of the purchase price, up to a total of $120,000, to the Family Equality Council, an advocacy group for LGBT parents and their children, Minnesota Public Radio reports. The group is part of the coalition fighting the Minnesota amendment, which will go before voters in November.

Target has not taken an official position on the amendment, but proponents of the measure are nonetheless angry that it is marketing the T-shirts and are using the situation to marshal support for their cause. “It’s really kind of a slap in the face to people of faith and supporters of marriage,” said Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Minnesota for Marriage, the group backing the amendment.

Schubert, who also ran the campaign that led to the passage of Proposition 8 in California, sent out an email to potential donors last week that criticized corporations for backing “genderless marriages,” and it became Minnesota for Marriage’s most successful fund-raising message to date, he told MPR.

No Target executive was available to be interviewed, but the company issued a statement saying, “Target supports inclusivity and diversity in every aspect of our business and has a long history of supporting the LGBT community through giving, volunteerism and event sponsorship and participation. Target is pleased to be able to bring our guests products they want while, in turn, helping support the LGBT community through the donation of 100 percent of the purchase price to the Family Equality Council.”

While Target has sponsored pride events and has LGBT-friendly employment policies, it came in for criticism from gay groups two years ago, when it donated to a political action committee supporting antigay Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Company officials said the donation was made because of Emmer’s stance on fiscal issues, but because of the uproar Target’s leadership agreed to review corporate giving policies. Emmer, a Republican, lost the election to Democrat Mark Dayton.