The department store Target is widely recognized as gay friendly, so much so the gays even came up with a fancier way to pronounce its name. So how come the retail giant is raising cash to support a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who’s making marriage inequality part of his campaign strategy?
Target has provided $100,000 in cash and $50,000 in services to MN Forward, a business-funded PAC that’s backing Republican Tom Emmer (pictured, left), a candidate who makes no secret of his support for “traditional” families only. And who is Emmer running against? Mark Dayton (pictured, right), the former U.S. senator and Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate, whose family just happened to create the Target store brand decades ago; he no longer has a stake in it, but remains heir to the Dayton’s Department Store fortune.
So why is Target not only gunning against its founder, but supporting an anti-gay candidate when the company itself is progressive enough to offer domestic partnership benefits to gay employees? Because, according to the store chain, it supports candidates who will “directly effect the company’s retail agenda” in a positive way. And those business interests run ahead of a candidate’s position on equal rights. (Or maybe Target just has a problem with alcoholics.)
Emmer says point blank on his website: “I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman. As a legislator, I have consistently supported the constitutional marriage amendment that protects traditional marriage.” Moreover, the Minnesota Independent notes, “In 2007, Emmer authored a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage and civil unions. In many instances, Emmer has tried to change language in bills to that same-sex couples cannot benefit. In a bill to create standards around surrogate motherhood, Emmer attempted to replace the word ‘parents’ with the words ‘mother and father.’ In a wrongful death bill this session, Emmer questioned the use of the term ‘domestic partner’ just as he has in bills aimed at providing benefits for same-sex partners. Emmer has also been criticized for his association with Christian hard rock ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide Intl., Inc., which has made incendiary statements about the morality of imprisoning and executing homosexuals. Emmer’s campaign had purchased table space at the group’s fundraiser and visited with the group on the radio and in person.”
Dayton says if same-sex marriage legislation reaches his desk, he’ll sign it: “I unequivocally support marriage equality, meaning the right of any person to marry legally the person he or she loves.” But hHe wasn’t always so on board. In 2004 he said he didn’t “believe that society should be forced to accept what is being called gay marriage, and I think it would be harmful to, just as I think the demagoguery and dehumanization of some of the proponents of these measures is very harmful to gay and lesbian men and women, I think that forcing quote unquote gay marriage, [the] general citizenry I do not believe yet wants that or is ready to support that.”)
In the end, might anybody — any. body. — be better than exiting Gov. Tim Pawlenty?
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