Scroll To Top

State AGs to Target: We Support You, but You Shouldn't Have Pulled Pride Merch

State AGs to Target: We Support You, but You Shouldn't Have Pulled Pride Merch

Target Pride merchandise

Fifteen state attorneys general have sent a letter to Target in the wake of anti-LGBTQ+ threats against the retailer.

A coalition of 15 state attorneys general has written to Target offering support for the retailer against anti-LGBTQ+ threats and calling on the company to stand by the LGBTQ+ community in the face of that intimidation.

At several Target stores across the country, Pride merchandise displays were vandalized and employees were threatened after far-right activists spread misleading information about the Pride collection — for instance, saying items clearly designed for adults were being marketed to children — and generally attacking the company for being inclusive. In response, Target ceased selling certain Pride items, and the AGs say that sends a dangerous message.

“As Attorneys General with a strong commitment to protecting the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals, we write to express our resolute and unequivocal support for the LGBTQIA+ community as well as our concern regarding recent events in Target stores involving intimidation and destruction of certain Pride-related merchandise and Target’s resulting decision to remove some Pride merchandise from its stores,” begins the letter, addressed to Target CEO Brian Cornell.

“We stand ready to help address anti-LGBTQIA+ threats and harassment in Target stores,” it continues, but goes on to note the many political attacks on the community. “Against this backdrop, Pride merchandise like Target’s helps LGBTQIA+ people see that they enjoy considerable support and that loud and intimidating fringe voices and bullies do not represent the views of society at large,” it notes.

The decision to pull some Pride items is understandably motivated by Target’s desire to keep employees safe, the AGs write, but they fear it sends the message “that those who engage in hateful and disruptive conduct can cause even large corporations to succumb to their bullying, and that they have the power to determine when LGBTQIA+ consumers will feel comfortable in Target stores — or anywhere in society.”

The coalition is led by Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. AGs from Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State have signed on to the letter.

“We can never allow violence and intimidation to set back the march for social progress and LGBTQ+ equality, but Target’s decision to pull pride products from the shelves sends the message that they can,” Campbell said in a press release. “Pride means standing firm alongside our LGBTQ+ fellow Americans and fighting for their rights in the face of bigotry and hate.”

“No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves to feel safe and included in their communities,” added California AG Rob Bonta. “We stand firm with the LGBTQ+ community and urge Target not to give in to hateful ideology. This Pride Month, and all year round, the California Department of Justice is committed to standing up for our LGBTQ+ community.”

The AGs recommend that Target report all incidents to police and point out that their states have LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws that apply to employment, public accommodations, and other aspects of life.

“While these laws certainly do not create a legal obligation for retailers to offer any particular merchandise or create any particular displays, they do demand that customers be treated equally,” the AGs write. “In this context, we urge Target to be mindful of its obligations under these laws as it makes decisions as to how to respond to backlash against its Pride merchandise. If Target again finds itself facing anti-LGBTQIA+ harassment — whether of customers or employees — store management or the corporate office are encouraged to reach out to our offices. We are ready, willing, and able to work with you in the spirit of progress, inclusivity, and equality.”

“This Pride Month, the LGBTQIA+ community needs and deserves our support and protection more than ever,” the letter concludes. “We urge Target to double down on inclusivity, reject hate in all its forms, and stand firm in the face of intimidation and discrimination. We hope that we can work together with Target to create a welcoming space where members of this community, including Target staff and customers, can express themselves in the joyful spirit of Pride.”

Advocate Magazine - Gio BenitezAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories