Don’t Let Target Apologize For Its $150K Donation By Giving Money to HRC

How is Target hoping to recover from its MN Forward political donation disaster? By considering giving an equal amount of money to the Human Rights Campaign. We shouldn’t let them get off so easy. (Updated: See below.)

HRC is in “private talks” with Target’s executive suite as they work out a plan that will: 1) Attempt to save Target’s reputation among gay consumers (and anyone who cares about equal rights); and 2) Logistically counter the effects of backing the PAC that wants to elect Tom Emmer governor. How to do that? Under consideration, we’re told, is a matching donation to HRC.

The Minneapolis-based retailer has been in private talks with the nation’s largest gay-rights advocacy group, Human Rights Campaign, about the possibility of giving the HRC a donation, but it’s unclear whether the company will take action. The group, based in Washington, D.C., has demanded that both Target and Best Buy make an equal or greater contribution to groups supporting gay-rights candidates in Minnesota.

So for now it’s just a possibility. Let this terrible idea never come to fruition.

The problem with giving HRC as much money as the “business-oriented” PAC? Because when Target donated $100,000 in cash and $50,000 in services to MN Forward, it was providing financial sustenance to a group that arguably knows what it’s doing in Minnesota politics and will smartly use its cash on hand to convince the state’s voters they want to put in office somebody who supports marriage discrimination. So what happens if Target hands a check for $150,000 to HRC? They’ll be doing the reverse, providing funds to a Gay Inc. group that’s proven time and again it is useless, unorganized, and ineffective. And there’s no guarantee even a penny would find its way to Minnesota or gay activists there, let alone pro-gay candidates.

HRC might be a not-for-profit, but it stands to walk away the profitable victor in this deal. And once HRC gets its money, you can be sure it’ll e-blast members and issue a statement to the media that Target has done the right thing and we should all forgive them now. Just like Target bought PFLAG’s integrity, such a donation would have Target buying HRC’s seal of approval.

No Target money should go to HRC. If even one penny does, then not one statement from Joe Solmonese & Co. carries any legitimacy, because they are running their mouths for cash. Make no mistake: Solmonese runs a fundraising organization that happens to be tacitly involved in pressuring lawmakers.

And we shouldn’t accept any half-baked compromises either. The Gays forgiving Target should come with a promise from the company to ignore the Citizens United case and get out of funding politics entirely. If HRC doesn’t secure that, it’ll be another example of the group’s innate weaknesses, or at least the inability of anyone to get a mega-corporation like Target to let democracy be — but it’ll certainly end up as an example why HRC doesn’t need more of your money.

Also problematic: The company’s executives’ history of donating to anti-gay candidates and causes; that needs to be addressed.

(Moreover, does it make sense to give money to HRC when the organization is dedicated to federal issues, not state and local races like the one Tom Emmer is involved in?)

If HRC is truly dedicated to helping Target right its wrong, it’ll ensure any matching donation finds its way not to its own bank account, but to a candidate who supports full equality. I’d even be fine with HRC helping choose who that person is.

UPDATE: HRC communications head Fred Sainz emails in: “The post is based upon an incorrect sentence that was run by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The story has been corrected … HRC has always insisted that the harm caused by Target CAN ONLY be repaired by giving to pro-equality candidates or causes in Minnesota. I would respectfully request that you correct the post.”

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  • ChristopherH

    Now THAT’S funny …

  • Emily

    And here we go again, scapegoating and crucifying our allies while focusing little attention on the radical anti-gay politicians who create issues like this.

    If not donating thousands to HRC, what do they suppose they do? I don’t plan on holding a grudge against Target my entire life, and it’s better than nothing at all.

  • Ethan

    Once angain Queerty bashes HRC (yawn) we know, we get it you hate them…But I don’t see you or any other the other fringe gay groups meeting with Target trying to straighten this out. This whole arguement against Gay inc. if there is one is so tired seriously….

  • JM

    I really despise all the gay bloggers that are on this mission against the HRC. I’ve been a proud member of HRC for years and I think they have done so much for our community. Yet all these assholes from the blogs and GetEQUAL are constantly bashing them. Here’s the deal folks, if you want to chain yourself to the White house or starve yourself, go right ahead, but you are doing NOTHING to support our cause.

    I would be delighted if target donated money to HRC, that sounds like a good idea to me. Queerty, get over yourself.

  • Kit O'Connell

    Sadly in almost any field you look at, from gay rights to the environment, the major charity/lobbyists group in that field has become bankrupt, focused on climbing into bed with any corporation if it will earn them money. This is just the latest part of that. I appreciate queerty for being brave enough to speak out against a group like this.

  • Lisbeth

    Why do HRC supporters continue to stick their heads in the sand and not recognize that HRC has gone the way of all Washington lobby organizations? HRC’s primary function is to collect money so they can make a show of lobbying congress. All it took was the lure of cash for HRC to be sitting on Target’s doorstep.

  • MaxH

    Oh, God, who cares? Don’t we remember why our modern day outrage, and ‘boycotts’ end up failing?

    We forget why we hate them.

    Or, even better, we realize that we really aren’t hurting their bottom line THAT much, and we get on with our lives – buying stuff at the cheapest stores we can.

    I can’t live my life boycotting Target, Wal-Mart, or any of the other cheap stores, because they’ve slighted us in some minor way (yes, $150K to a conservative candidate because they want the tax breaks is not a major slight) – I don’t make the income.

    So I will continue to shop at Target. They’re allowed to donate to whomever they want, and even if they gave $5,000,000 to John McCain last election (who, despite being from Arizona, is a man I continually cannot stand), that would be their right, and I’d STILL shop there. The rest of you can go shop at Sharper Image, or whatever store left that hasn’t found some way to piss off Gay, Inc.

  • Matthew Munson

    I think 150,000 to Outright Minnesota and maybe 50,000 for HRC would be doable.

  • Dawson

    WAH! They gave money to a candidate, so now they need to give money to another candidate. WAH! They are giving money to HRC, WAH! QT hates HRC because they all don’t do anything and stuff except throw parties and spend our money…WAH! They should give the money to QT so they can all not do anything but bitch about what everyone else doesn’t do. WAH!

  • gaylib

    What??? HRC? Why not just give it to the DNC, or OFA? HRC is just a propaganda arm of the Democrats to keep the gays in line. How about giving it to someone who actually supports gay civil rights?

  • Tommy Marx

    I’ve boycotted exactly one place in my life: Cracker Barrel. They fired people for being gay, so I’ll be damned if I ever eat there. I don’t care how long it’s been – if a gay man isn’t good enough to work at their restaurant, then a gay man isn’t good enough to pay to eat there.

    Target is now my second boycott. Target has always positioned itself as the sophisticated alternative to Wal-Mart, insisting that they embrace diversity and life. It may sound hypocritical, but I have no problem shopping at Wal-Mart – they never have made themselves out to be anything other than what they are. But Target has courted the gay market while donating money to organizations that support anti-gay politicians. Fuck that. If you hate faggots, at least have the balls to say it, instead of pretending you like us so you can get our money.

  • damon459

    This is total BS when the story first broke everyone said they should at least make an equal donation to an LGBT org now they want to make said donation and it’s not good enough? It’s no wonder nobody takes us seriously we make demands someone try’s to meet then and we want more? Fuck it I’m not going to boycott Target I’m going to boycott pissy faggots who will never be happy no matter what. I’m dead serious on this if DOMA was over turned as well as DADT and we got full equal protection under the law there would still be a bunch of queers pissed off about one thing or another. Plus I know people who work for Target and I don’t want to see them lose their jobs over this silly boycott.

  • Fitz

    The best way out of this would have been to just ask for the original 150k back, and to make a commitment to just sell product and not get into politics.

  • jake

    No not to HRC it should go to Minnesota directly HRC isnt doing enough at the state level to forward marriage equality. We all know that marriage is going to be won through the courts not our elected officials because they are way to cowardly to stand for the ones that helped put them were they are state run org. dont have the millions needed to counter folks like NOM and could def. put the money to better use

  • David

    I suppose Target could donate an equal amount to small town libraries across the USA to purchase books to fill their glbt collections. Or something.

    What I’d like to see Target do is demonstrate that they actually like and respect their glbt customers. First thing to do there is to stop supporting crazy people who want to restore Biblical punishments for their gay customers.

    The smart thing for them to do is to just get out of the politics thing completely.

  • McMike

    Um, yeah. Giving money to an organization 1/2 the gay community can’t stand isn’t going to help Target.

  • libhomo

    Wow, Target’s and the HRC’s PR trolls are out in force today.

    I would like to say that I’m surprised that the HRC is trying to make money off of grassroots activism, but I’m not. The HRC is so corrupt they never supported the boycott in the first place.

  • Pitou

    @jake: I couldn’t agree more. Use it to fight against those NOM fuckers. Thats where it would help EVERYONE the most!

  • Eriq1980

    I think that after all this nonsense the gay community has caused over this we should just be thankful that Target has agreed to meet with the HRC. How rude is it of use to sit here and criticize the HRC because they choose to do things in a mature manner by engaging in actual conversations with a company instead of practicing childish boycotts!

    Good for the HRC!! At least someone out there is still trying to paint of a picture of our community as whole in a mature and respectable manner.

    Also guys — MN Forward is also donating to three Democrats in the state of Minnesota also. NOT ALL 150K is going to this one Republican candidate! Please, do your community a favor actually research these things before you take part in a boycott.

    Another better solution to a boycott is this: Buy stock in the company!!! Yes, this will make you a shareholder and shareholders and the ones who actually RUN the company.

    Let’s face it team, we need to be truly educated on these issues before we act or else we let a few ignorant, one-sided wannabe journalists control our actions!

    STOP THE TARGET BOYCOTT!!!! We need to continue to do our part by shopping to get this ECONOMY fixed. Then we can go back to having the attention of our political leaders.

  • Chris

    This is a very long piece dedicated to something that seems very unlikely to happen? It’s highly sensationalizing half a sentence that does not even really implicate HRC. I’m not entirely sure statements like, “I would like to say that I’m surprised that the HRC is trying to make money off of grassroots activism, but I’m not.” are warranted yet (at least regarding this).

    “If HRC is truly dedicated to helping Target right its wrong, it’ll ensure any matching donation finds its way not to its own bank account, but to a candidate who supports full equality.”

    I mean, this is what HRC has been demanding all along? Like, a lot? We have, uh, no evidence, at all, that they have even considered anything otherwise.

    And I don’t seriously think that anything short of convincing Target or its executives to NEVER mire themselves in politics ever again would be a complete failure or testament to any “innate weaknesses.” Specifically regarding executives’ donations… just about every Fortune 500 company has an executive that has donated to a candidate or organization that supports anti-equality measures. Surprise! Under this rationale, we’d have to petition and/or boycott thousands of businesses.

    As far as criticism of HRC’s CEI go, because I’m sure that’s come up on the site… have a little understanding of the position this department’s team is in. The Index has been a consistent measure of WORKPLACE conditions and policies. “How good of an EMPLOYER of LGBT people is this company?” Yes, there are points given or taken for blatantly anti-LGBT actions. But before Citizens, what did this really look like? How does the CEI now quantify how “anti-equality” a company’s donation is and translate it into points? Is $10,000 to a candidate that only supports DADT repeal but not marriage equality better or worse than $500 to someone who is an ally across the board? Okay, by how many “points”? Platforms are subjective, vague and encompass, uh, a lot of issues.

    What this article seems to suggest is that HRC suspend Taget’s rating (and, as would only be fair, all companies) until it promises to “leave democracy alone,” implying that any assessment of a business that does not take this into consideration is useless (like EVERYTHING else the HRC does, AMIRIGHT?!). But this isn’t true. The CEI (and sister Buyer’s Guide) are excellent and meticulous assessments of companies’ pro-LGBT (or LGBT inclusive) policies. If I am someone faced with the reality of having to choose somewhere to work that will not directly discriminate against me, especially in states where they are not required to protect me, and knowing that just about every major corp in America has donated (however intangibly) to the anti-equality movement, the CEI is an accurate and comprehensive resource for me.

    The HRC has done things in the past that have been highly (HIGHLY) problematic. This doesn’t mean, however, that the Community should give up objectively assessing current actions and whatever progress the organization’s made. We should be able to parse what the group does right and what it does wrong, and not let vendetta drive completely uncalled for and unfair commentaries like this one (and some of the subsequent comments).

    But thank you, Queerty, for fighting the good fight and blowing the whistle on Big Manhunt and for “How Tom Cruise Cruises For Twink Butt: Zac Efron Edition.” These posts are more important to the cause than any of HRC’s work will ever be.

  • Ryan C

    Why doesn’t Queerty stop shuffling its feet and come out with what they want to really say:

    Never shop at Target again.

    Because if giving money to the HRC doesn’t cut it, what will? And if there’s a comparable organization to HRC that actually gets the job done it would have been oh so much more productive to mention them on the same breath.

  • redd

    Giving money to HRC is ridiculous. They money will never do any gay or lesbians any good.

    Epic Fail!

  • Jake

    Also, it seems like some people on this site think that money donated to the HRC simply goes to line Joe Solomnese’s well-tailored pockets. Little do people realize that HRC puts a significant portion of the donations it receives toward its HRCPAC (political action committee), which serves the purpose of financially supporting pro-equality candidates around the country. Equally important, donations over $5,000 to the HRC go to the HRC Foundation, which doesn’t do lobbying or political work, but rather focuses on things like education, adoption, diversity, and outreach where our community needs it most. HRC does a lot for us for which it gets little credit.

    Also, it seems like people just don’t know the facts about what Target did. Target didn’t donate to Tom Emmer’s campaign. It donated to a pro-business PAC that supports pro-business candidates. The fact of the matter is, Emmer will support huge businesses like Target more than his Democratic opponent will, and that’s why he has the PAC’s support. Target didn’t donate to an anti-LGBT organization nor did it donate to an anti-LGBT candidate.

    Of course it is our responsibility to hold Target and its executives responsible for the negative impact that donation will have on the LGBT community. It sucks, and Target’s apology is a good first step. The fact that Target and Best Buy obviously care about their perfect ratings in HRC’s CEI bodes well for their commitments to equality. Both companies understand that the LGBT community is strong consumer base and they are trying to make amends.

    This Chris character makes a good point that Target’s commitment to having a safe, non-discriminatory workplace has been shown, and that’s something that shouldn’t be ignored. But take a look at most large businesses, and you’ll see a lot of money going to the GOP. It’s just true that the right cares about protecting big businesses.

  • Eriq1980

    @ Jake —

    You are absolutely right! And it just goes to show you how ungrateful most of our community truly is when it comes to how far we have come in this country. First attacking and hating on Target because of a political donation (which all companies do) and how it begins moving to the HRC.

    Forget the fact that Target, along with many others, and the HRC have done many things for the LGBT community. Those things do not count. Heaven forbid that as a social group fighting for equal rights we try to give credit to those organizations and companies that have helped us along the way.

  • Stephen Murray

    I don’t trust HRC.

    They are more interested in helping themselves than helping the LGBT community.

    The homophobes at Target need to donate $250,000 to a pro-gay candidate.

  • lincoln

    Keep the money with LGBT orgs in Minnesota. You know, our folks who actually LIVE there and know what people in Minnesota need to have a better life. Who at HRC is going to bother to talk to anyone in rural or urban Minnesota long enough to find out what they need?

  • lincoln

    This link here:


    will take you to Target’s contact us form. I filled it out and picked “community giving” as my subject heading. This is what I told the people at Target.

    If you want to follow my lead, go ahead.

    Good Morning:

    Please don’t give money to HRC as a way to “fix” any trouble you might be in with the LGBT community over this donation. The Human Rights Campaign Represents the interests of wealthy (mostly white) gay men who interact with people in Washington DC. Besides, HRC has no firm committment to protecting the rights of the transgender community.

    If you really want to deal with this, don’t hide behind HRC. Come out openly in the community, double your donation, and KEEP THE MONEY IN MINNESOTA! There are several excellent organizations right in your own backyard that know what the LGBT community there needs and deserves.

    Double your donation, keep it in Minnesota, and don’t give it away to HRC. Please.

    Then get ahold of Out and Equal and work with them to create an LGBT employee resource. In smaller areas, it can be an overall diversity thing.

    Now is the time to step out strong and double up. Don’t hide behind corporate folks. Stand next to the working class and poor LGBT people who work for you and shop from you every day.

    Lincoln Rose
    Seattle, WA

  • Derek Washington

    I like Target and will continue to shop there. Sorry, just telling the truth.


  • Michael

    Did we wake up a little grumpy today? A whole lot of fuss over a dime store.

  • online gokken

    If the plural of tooth is “teeth,” why isn’t the plural of booth “beeth”?

  • Micah

    The donation to HRC should have Minnesota strings attached. If that isn’t going to be a possibility, then they should be donating to OUTFront. They are the Minnesota non-profit political group that deserves the funds to fight against politicians like Emmer.

  • Cam

    HRC was opposed to going after Target, they were opposed to the boycott and supported Target until it because obvious that the boycott might go on without them. So now, the group that supported Target is privately going to them saying “Hey, pay us a bunch of money, and we’ll go out and keep those loudmouthed gays quiet.”

    Am I wrong or isn’t this the same thing that they tried to promise the White House “Oh, don’t worry about gay rights, we’ll keep the gays quiet while you do whatever else you need.”

    Here is an idea. Have Target give to the funds supporting gay marriage in their home state rather than just paying extortion money to a group that says “Pay us and we’ll keep the gays quiet.”

  • Cam

    @Eriq1980: said…

    “@ Jake –

    You are absolutely right! And it just goes to show you how ungrateful most of our community truly is when it comes to how far we have come in this country. First attacking and hating on Target because of a political donation (which all companies do)

    Are you insane? Their donation ended up in the hands of a politician, with ties to groups that believe it is MORAL TO KILL GAYS! Have you drunk so much of the self-hating kool aide, that you actually think that is ok? The son of the CEO of Target studied at an institute run by Focus on the Family, arguably the largest barrier group to gay rights in the nation. But if HRC gets the money for a new gala I guess that is all that is important to you.

  • the crustybastard

    HRC. The gay-rights organization you can safely donate to when you’re not entirely comfortable with gay rights.™

  • Tollendyr

    Target giving money to HRC would only CEMENT my boycott of Target.

  • StopHRC.com

    From one republican organization to another.

  • Keith

    Screw Target and screw HRC. They both deserve each other. I took the HRC sticker off and they can kiss my ass if they think they will ever get another penny from me. And for Target to do what it did is appalling. They have a pretty big gay customer base that they just pissed off. I’m sure it will affect their bottom line. This is why publicly traded companies should steer clear of politics. The CEO is a bumbling idiot for doing this to Target.

  • Dan

    They, and other corporations need to withdrawal all political funding. Degrading our civil rights by comparing them to other political issues such as the environment is appalling. Imagine if your rights to marry or raise a child was debated by our politicians and government. Too many treat this issue as if they are talking about funding for a highway. There is no debate, opinions or otherwise. It’s our civil rights, that all people should have equally.

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