Why Won’t HRC Stop Telling LGBT Consumers to Shop At Target? (Updated)

Candidates for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors are being quite candid on where they stand on Target’s introduction to their fair city: “No frickin’ way!” That’s quite a different position being taken by the Human Rights Campaign, which has yet to adjust Target’s Corporate Equality Index score, a numerical figure that HRC uses to actively encourage LGBT consumers to shop at certain companies. Update: Target is standing down.

[flv:http://www.msignorile.com/Audio/HRCSainz.mp3 http://queerty-prodweb.s3.amazonaws.com/wp/docs/2010/08/hrcfredsainz.jpg 300 150]

Having failed to convince Target to make good on its donation to the Tom Emmer-backing PAC by donating to a pro-gay candidate, HRC is still, theoretically, helping the company by refusing to amend its Corporate Equality Index score for the company. Nor is HRC taking a position on a consumer boycott of the retailer.

Speaking to HRC spokesflack Fred Sainz, Michelangelo Signorile relays:

Signorile:…The [Corporate] Equality Index is a position on the boycott, because the reason you give the equality index is to tell people where to shop…

Sainz: No, that’s not true.

Signorile:…and what companies they should support.

Sainz: No, no, that’s not true. The Corporate Equality Index is a measure of the workplace practices of companies. It essence was started as a guide for the best employers are for LGBT people…It is not meant to be a statement on a company’s holistic behavior. It is rather a measurement of the workplace practices of a company. That’s really–-

Signorile: HRC does tell people to shop at equality-friendly businesses, even has an app that is devoted to that.

Sainz: That is true.

Signorile: Okay, so the equality-friendly businesses are those that score high on the Corporate Equality Index.

Sainz: That is true…

Signorile: So right now, at this moment, Target still has a 100, and that means that’s a good place to shop.

Sainz insists HRC doesn’t want to make a “knee jerk” reaction to Target’s political donations, though it’s difficult to see how responding to the corporation’s $150,000 donation to a PAC that’s seeking to elect an anti-gay candidate by at least deleting the relevant 15 points from the CEI score is a rash decision. And thus, HRC’s own iPhone app dedicated to telling consumers which LGBT-friendly companies to shop at continues to direct dollars to Target.

We already learned PFLAG’s integrity can be bought by Target. And while HRC says Target can no longer sponsor its Minneapolis dinner, nor will HRC accept any cash from them again (for now), the organization still refuses to find its backbone and tell consumers, Hey, you might wanna shop elsewhere. Pussies.

So for now, we’re left with more on-location antics, this time from Queer Rising in Wisconsin:

UPDATE: It took a round of lambasting by the blogs, as it usually does, but HRC is finally making a smart move with Target and Best Buy, and the scores it gives them. In a statement, HRC press secretary Michael Cole says the companies are being removed from the organization’s CEI, but will not actively discourage LGBT consumers from shopping there.

The recent political contributions by Target and Best Buy are cause for reflection on the criteria used for future editions of the Corporate Equality Index (CEI). While considering all of this, it’s important to keep in mind that the CEI has made a tremendous impact in the real lives of LGBT people in large part because it has been a predictable and transparent roadmap for companies to institute fair workplace policies. Instead of making capricious decisions about scoring criteria, we believe that a responsible consideration of all of the facts is the smartest way to move forward.

Already complicated, the Citizens United decision has made campaign finance issues even more complex. HRC is thoughtfully studying the many ramifications of political giving by companies in this new reality.

The CEI, upon which the Buyer’s Guide is based, was completed in June 2009. Under that set of criteria, both Target and Best Buy scored 100 percent. The Buyer’s Guide available on our website was released in November 2009 and is representative of the information known to us at the time. Because we understand the impact of leaving Target and Best Buy on the various products associated with the Buyer’s Guide, both companies will soon be removed from it.

HRC will not encourage people to shop at either store and believes that consumers should make their own decisions after careful consideration of all of the information available to them.

And Your Boycott of Target Can Remain Forever: Don’t Expect Them to Donate Any Money to Pro-LGBT Candidates

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #business #campaigns #election stories and more


  • Kurt

    The HRC Equality Index has long been flawed. It rates companies based on non-binding promises not to discrimination. A company gets the same score regardless of if they have an enforcable agreement not to discriminate or just some vague declaration of good intentions.

  • Cam

    I love how at first the guy lies and says that HRC does not use the index to tell people where to shop. then the interviewer takes him through it step by step and he has to admit that yes, their app telling people where to shop uses the info from their index.

    Are they just trained to deny everything and lie until somebody forces the truth out of them?!?!

  • CJ

    This anti-Target stuff is stupid. This is all over a $150k donation to a PAC that support an anti-gay candidate? Since when do all Democrats support full equality? The last time I checked most elected Democrats only support domestic partnerships or civil unions. And, even though we have Democratic majorities, what LGBT equality legislation have we seen passed in the past 2 years? Should I stop supporting them because they also want to DENY full equality, proclaim further excuses, etc?

  • Cam

    @CJ: said…

    This anti-Target stuff is stupid. This is all over a $150k donation to a PAC that support an anti-gay candidate? Since when do all Democrats support full equality?

    The money ended up in the hands of a candiate with ties to a group that thinks it is moral to kill gays.

    Combine that with the fact that the son of the CEO of Target studies at the institute run by “Focus on the Family” the group that is arguably along with NOM the most powerful anti-gay organization in the country.

    I would say that the fact that some Dems support civil unions to the fact that Target’s anti-gay CEO donates to candidates tied to groups that advocate the murder of gays are two hugely different things.

  • Brian Miller

    So wait a minute… San Francisco’s city supervisors are going to block the construction of a new store because the store did not donate to the supervisors’ political party?

    That’s not “activism,” that’s corruption.

    I would say that the fact that some Dems support civil unions to the fact that Target’s anti-gay CEO donates to candidates tied to groups that advocate the murder of gays are two hugely different things.

    How about the fact that the vast majority of Senate Democrats voted to permanently ban “civil unions” and marriage equality alike with a DOMA vote?

    As for “candidates tied to groups that advocate the murder of gays,” you do remember that Rick Warren opened up the inauguration of our current president, right?

    Rick Warren, close friend of the president, was also instrumental in the effort to get Uganda to implement the death penalty for homosexuality in that country. So using your oh-so-political logic, a vote for or contribution to Barack Obama and DOMA Joe Biden is support for a candidacy favoring marriage discrimination on a federal level AND one that is tied to an actual law that mandates execution of gay people.

    God, how I hate partisan bullshit.

  • Bill Perdue

    No money for the DNC and the RNC.

    No shopping at Target or Walmart.

    No money donated to HRC, Stonewall Democrats or any Democrats, GOProud, Log Cabin or any Republicans.

    Donate to real LGBT activist group like EAA, legal activist groups like Lambda or the NCLR, student activists like GSA’s or GLSEN, HIV/AIDS support and activist groups or to help our brothers and sisters in Uganda, Iraq and Iran.


    @BILL PERDUE: You left out Queer Rising and Get Equal, two groups that have done a hella lot more than EAA, jes sayin’.

  • Bill Perdue

    @DEREK WASHINGTON: I left out hundreds of groups that I admire.

    Queer Rising and GetEqual and many other direct action groups and networks have done lots of good work, particularly picketing the Bigot in Chief at the WH and heckling him in California, where he sabotaged same sex marriage in 2008.

    But it was EAA that brought 200,000 plus activists together in DC to trash the Democrats and Obama for their cowardice, bigot pandering and bigotry. That’s huge.

    There are no contradictions between direct and mass actions but mass actions are far, far more beneficial.

  • Derek Washington

    @BP: Not trying to be argumentative, but, the nucleus of the EAA are all now involved in GE and QR. I agree the National Equality March was a freaking amazing event. I will always look at it as one of the high points of my life. However, since then, egos and divergent agendas seem (Imho) to have left them dog paddling with no real accomplishments as of late.

    We live in a 24hr news cycle, I just don’t see EAA as having lived up to what it could have been if it hadn’t been hijacked.

    Your thoughts? I’m being sincere, btw.

  • damon459

    As long as I know LGBT people working at Target trying to support their families I’ll continue to shop there. I know I’m beating a dead horse here but if I refused to spend money on goods and services with companies that didn’t support us 100% and 100% of the time I’d be living in a cave hundreds of miles from civilization.

  • patrick

    Brian Miller what are you talking about?

    “So wait a minute… San Francisco’s city supervisors are going to block the construction of a new store because the store did not donate to the supervisors’ political party?”

    No, dear, San Francisco’s candidates for the Board of Supervisors are not interested in rolling out the welcome mat for Target after learning about their contribution to a PAC that works to elect Tom Emmer.

    Remember this: http://minnesotaindependent.com/58393/gop-linked-punk-rock-ministry-says-executing-gays-is-moral

    Why should anyone in San Francisco be willing to look the other way when Target wants access to the wallets of the largest LGBT community in the country? They are (thankfully) doing what they should do as wanna be representatives.

    The Democratic Party has nothing to do with this story. As usual.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Derek Washington: Derek, I suspect you know a lot more than I do about the ins and outs of EAA, QR and GE.

    None of those groups are the last word. Movement building has taken huge leaps forward in the aftermath of the SSM debacle in California.

    We were totally betrayed by Clinton, attacked and demoralized by eight years by Bush’s relentless bigotry and now bitterly betrayed by Obama and the Congressional Democrats. That decade or more of defeats, betrayals, demoralization and inaction is over for good, shrugged off by new generations of militants who aren’t afraid of direct action or mass action. (Waiting in the wings are the members of thousands of GSA and GLSEN chapters.)

    What I’m expecting (and urging) is next big step, calling a broad, inclusive national assembly of GLBT activists to map out a strategy for militant mass action and the election of a leadership to win equality. I am sick to death of self appointed ‘boards’ and hustlers like Solmonese and Kors who have no organic links to activists and no clue how to fight and win.

    We don’t need people who look comfortable in a Tux, we need people who look comfortable chained to the White House fence or leading a mass demonstration. We need a national assembly to thrash out a mass action strategy and an honest, accountable, elected leadership. Until we get that we’re just pissing in the wind.

  • Brutus

    Where’s the post about HRC putting up a matching $150,000 to a pro-equality candidate?

  • Bill Perdue

    Uh oh, here’s the guy who always flags me.

  • Steve

    This will blow over, as soon as the next distraction takes over the news cycle. A boycott by a few percent of the people isn’t going to be a major factor in sales for very long. And, some selling by social-responsibility mutual funds isn’t going to do much to the stock price, either.

    A week ago, Gregg Steinhafel could have smoothed it over and made the controversy go away by making an offsetting donation to the other side. He chose not to. Obviously, he’s not going to fire himself for causing the publicity, a boycott, or a small drop in the stock price.

    The only thing that has changed is that I personally will be less likely to shop at Target in the future. I never was impressed by their menswear department, anyway, and their stores are not convenient for me, so I have never been a frequent customer. The couple hundred per annum that I used to spend at Target won’t be missed.

  • ricky lee

    The HRC still exists? Why? How irrelevant do you need to be to finally know when to fold?

  • WalkderDC

    Anybody notice how late HRC always is to jump on a bandwagon? They could have admitted that their scoring was flawed, but they refused, then they claimed that they don’t recomend where gays should shop, then they admitted that that was a lie and that their iphone app does recomend where to shop based on their scoring, now they are finally adjusting their scoring.

    They did the same thing with that case in CA against Prop 8. First they did all they could to try to convince the people not to sue to knock down Prop 8. Then they attacked the parties in print. THEN when the case is won they go on the news shows and pretend they were part of it. They were also against the marriage lawsuits in ever other case, if they had been listened to, we wouldn’t have marriage in any states.

    Maybe if HRC actually did something instead of waiting for things to happen to them they wouldn’t seem to irrelevent to us.

  • Brutus

    @Bill Perdue: Yeah, I do call you out on your bullshit, because you’re an irrational ideologue.

  • Michael

    Except for the window decals, I see zero difference between the BBB and the HRC. Pay either group their extortion money, and you get a good rating. In this sense, I guess you could call that equality.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Brutus: What, are you still pissed because I said you were despicable for approving of the murder of civilians and GI’s in Afghanistan?

    Get over it. (Political) Chickenhawks are despicable.

  • Tomas

    Give me $150,000 an I’ll be proud to tell you where to shop. Might even give you a ride.

  • Tomas

    Enough of the Target stuff, already. I get it. I never thought I’d want to see more Davey Wavey, but I’ll take sappy over boring any day.

  • Derek Washington

    @BILLPURDUE Thanks, well reasoned response.

  • reason

    @damon459: This is much bigger than that, all of the other companies are watching Target as they have become the first experiment after the supreme court allowed corporations greater influences in politics. We will either send a strong message to other corporations to keep their nose out or we will fail and corporate america will open the flood gates. The only thing corporate america is interested in is profit, they will bury our community in the graveyard along the way.

  • S

    @ricky lee:

    Every organization, no matter how well intentioned at the outset, reaches a point where it is more focused on its own survival (and possibly expansion) than on the original mission.

    Given that the HRC was formed in 1980, it seems to have gone through this life cycle remarkably quickly.

Comments are closed.