Target and Best Buy have donated over $250,000 to a political committee supporting a rabidly anti-equality candidate for Governor of Minnesota, where both are headquartered - a man with ties to a Christian rock band that advocates violence and death to gays.
The news is all the more shocking because both of these companies have long records of providing fair and equitable workplaces for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees.
We've drafted an open letter calling on Target and Best Buy to make it right by donating an equal amount to support fair-minded candidates who will fight for equality.
As nationwide retailers, both of your brands gave other corporations a standard to which they could aspire. In fact, your consistent ratings of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index were a solid signal of your commitment to a diverse workforce. As a community, we are grateful for that commitment and we fully expect it will continue.
Now, Americans are questioning their loyalty to your brands with word of significant contributions to the political action committee MN Forward that hopes to install one of the most strident opponents of equality in the Minnesota Governor’s mansion. With these contributions, you have severely damaged those carefully cultivated reputations and violated the spirit of the gold standards bestowed on you. In fact, the long-term effects on families that shop at Target and Best Buy throughout Minnesota and the U.S. will be devastating.
At this critical time in Minnesotans’ quest for equality, MN Forward and the candidates they are supporting would turn Minnesota backward, away from the promise of equal opportunity and fairness that we hold dear. No matter your motivations in making these donations, they didn’t occur in a vacuum. Same-sex couples in your home state are denied the equality given to other couples in marriage and many state leaders are poised to right that inequity very soon. $250,000 in contributions to those who would stand in the way is a punch in the gut to those of us who want to see all families treated fairly. What may have sounded like a “good business decision” in the board room turns out to be a horribly short-sighted business decision when millions of consumers lose respect for your companies.
With the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, the landscape for political contributions has changed in ways that no one fully appreciates yet. Your foray into this uncharted water has proved choppy and should serve as a warning to other corporations mindful of the perceptions of LGBT and allied consumers.
It’s time to make things right. The very least you can do to begin rebuilding your image among fair-minded consumers is to make equivalent donations to groups that support candidates who will put all Minnesota families first and fulfill the promises of our highest ideals.
We’re watching and we’re waiting.