(Editor’s note: While this article was published last year the issue still remains present today. With the Supreme Court currently hearing about the legality of employers to discriminate and fire workers based on their gender identity and sexuality we view it as essential that Target workers and the public know Target’s role in supporting anti-LGBTQ politicians who’ve actively worked to make discrimination against queer workers legal)
For years now Target has garnered much attention and support for its efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity, perhaps most famously supporting trans guests and workers to do one of the most basic things non-trans people take for granted – having the right to use the restroom based on your gender identity. This bold move should be applauded and we should support all power players, such as Target, defending the rights and dignity of marginalized people who otherwise face a world hostile to their existence.
Yet despite these efforts by Target to live up to its self-proclaimed values there is another history that Target has wished to hide. Back in 2010 Target came under massive scrutiny for funding hate-based, anti-LGBTQ politicians. When this contradiction was brought to light Target’s response was:
“Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth. MN Forward is focused specifically on those issues and is committed to supporting candidates from any party who will work to improve the state’s job climate. However, it is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda.
In the context of this contribution, some of you have raised questions regarding our commitment to diversity, and more specifically, the GLBT community. Let me be very clear, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company.”Former Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel
It is important to emphasize that the above justification was based around the issue of economics, meaning that Target, as a corporation, will do whatever it must to create the most favorable conditions to maximize its profit margins, even when that means funding hate. We would have thought that since this incident the executive leadership would have learned that they can’t claim to respect diversity and inclusivity for its guests and workers when they consciously choose to fund hate-based politicians.
This is not an old issue, but an ongoing one that remains right up to the present. This year alone Target has given tens of thousands of dollars to some of the most vehemently anti-LGBTQ, anti-worker politicians in the country. Based on our research Target has funded 28 of these politicians, all of whom voted at one time or another against passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Actwhich would give protection to LGBTQ workers against workplace discrimination. The overwhelming majority of these same 28 politicians also voted for one of the largest wealth transfers in modern US history at the expense of the 99% into the hands of the 1%. Their touted tax bill will also lower the corporate tax rate from the current 35% to 21%, giving corporations $320 billion dollars in benefits. It is a complete lie that Target funding these anti-LGBTQ, anti-worker politicians is not part of a “political or social agenda”.
We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the nefarious actions these politicians have engaged in, which Target has enabled. Take for instance Rep. Cathy Rodgers, who not only co-sponsored a state bill in Oregon to ban gay marriage, but had ties to white nationalist James Allsup. Or we could look at another Target politician such as Sen. Roy Blunt, who voted to ban gay couples from adopting children, also voting against a federal minimum wage increase to $10 dollars. There’s Rep. Bradley Byrne, who endorsed the infamous pedophile Roy Moore and refused to rescind his support for Moore even after all victims stepped forward to speak out against Moore’s abuse. Rep. Bryne also is in favor of Trump’s Muslim ban – how does that pair with Target’s beliefs of diversity and inclusivity?
Probably the most ironic of all is Target’s enabling of politicians like Rep. Mark Walker, who fought to enact North Carolina’s infamous HB2 bill, which bans trans people from using the restroom according to their gender identity. And then there’s Rep. Virginia Foxx, who not only dismissed the hate crime committed against Matthew Shepard – which prompted the passage of anti hate crime legislation known as “The Matthew Shepard Act” – she also believes corporations should have access to their workers’ DNA.
Here is a complete list of the hate-based politicians Target funds:
We say “no more” to all of this. We demand that Target executives be held accountable for their actions, which cause harm to Target workers and guests. We demand that Target executives absolutely stop enabling and funding hate. We demand Target executives actually be consistent with their self-proclaimed values which are supposed to respect diversity and inclusivity. Will this moment be just one more instance of Target executives demanding that we do as they say, not as they do? Or will Target executives live up to the millions of dollars they have invested in cultivating an image of being “progressive”?
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