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Anti-Gay MN Candidate Tom Emmer: Target Donation is 'Free Speech'

Minnesota's anti-gay Republican candidate for governor Tom Emmer responded for the first time to outrage over a $150,000 donation by Target Corporation to Minnesota Forward, a conservative PAC funding ads for his campaign:

Target_emmer "Emmer said in an interview that people upset over Target's donation are missing the big picture. 'The sad part to me is, I thought we were supposed to be able to exercise our rights of free speech,' said Emmer, a fiery conservative who is his party's likely nominee for governor. 'We're supposed to celebrate the fact that we have different perspectives. And it doesn't seem like that's what this is about. This seems to be more personal and we've got to get over that.' Target chief executive Gregg Steinhafel defended the donation earlier this week, saying the Minnesota-based discount retailer remains committed to the gay community. He said its political donations are intended to support business objectives such as job creation."

Target's donation has inspired calls for a boycott from many, including this grandmother, who documented her protest on YouTube.

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  1. Sure, friend-o, you can SAY whatever you want, just like I can SHOP wherever I want. That's very true. But if you're going to do those things, accept the fallout and don't hide behind the First Amendment when your sales start to slide.

    Posted by: Tigerama | Jul 30, 2010 8:29:27 AM

  2. I think he's missing the point. A decision to boycott Target based on their actions is also free speech. Respecting freedom of speech is not the same thing as accepting others' points of view as your own.

    Posted by: John in Houston | Jul 30, 2010 8:29:44 AM

  3. 'We're supposed to celebrate the fact that we have different perspectives...This seems to be more personal and we've got to get over that.'

    The arrogance is astounding. Yes, it becomes personal when you legislate inequality. "Business Interests" is a red-herring, corporate brush off.

    Shop at KOHL's.

    Posted by: stephen | Jul 30, 2010 8:30:09 AM

  4. Gregg Steinhafel, “Target remains committed to the gay community, (Target’s political donations are intended to support business objectives…such as job creation.” That’s like saying we gave the Hitler campaign because we liked his strong stance on business but we just a have a minor disagreement with his “Jew Policy.” Since when is the business of business job creation anyway? That’s a byproduct but not the end but I’m sure your board of directors will remind you of that when they fire you. Coors has yet to recover from their historical treatment of Gays. You get one bit at the apple pal and you are in the process of losing our community for all time.

    Posted by: Dave | Jul 30, 2010 8:44:57 AM

  5. Free speech doesn't mean being able to say or do whatever you want whenever you want without any repercussions from anyone. What a jerk.

    Posted by: Jon | Jul 30, 2010 8:50:23 AM

  6. Unfortunately, Tom Emmer's "free speech" translates to "hate speech" on the subject of the GLBT community. So, I'll just say I'm free to hate shopping at Target and spend my gay dollars elsewhere! Thanks, Tom for clarifying your nuttiness. Thanks, Target for making your true feelings known about us. Hey, HRC, what do you think about Target's 100% GLBT rating now! Oh, yeah, this kind of stab-us-in-the-back routine isn't measured in your survey. Well, wise up and make it part of future surveys, please.

    Posted by: Rob | Jul 30, 2010 9:07:26 AM

  7. "'We're supposed to celebrate the fact that we have different perspectives."

    Yes, let's celebrate racists, antisemites, and all the rest who want to take rights away from people, bash, and murder them.

    I feel like taking away the rights of right wing "christian" lunatics. Celebrate THAT, fuckface.

    Posted by: Gridlock | Jul 30, 2010 9:10:45 AM

  8. "This seems to be more personal and we've got to get over that."

    Yeah, it's funny when politicians want to legislate discrimination against gay citizens it actually does become personal. So, no, we don't intend to get over that... asshole.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Jul 30, 2010 9:17:42 AM

  9. gregg.steinhafel@target.com Target CEO

    Mr. Steinhafel,
    I read the e-mail issued to help explain the recent controversial donations and I'm sorry, I'm going to have to move on to another store.
    I am a businessman and consumer as well, and I understand that you would like to dismiss the donations within a broader context, but I cannot knowingly
    contribute to an operation that supports politicians that want to legislate inequality for fellow Americans... frankly, it's un-American.
    We all vote with the pocket book and although I've always enjoyed shopping at Target, yesterday I switched to Kohls... as I suspect many of the people I know
    will as well. After such a long record of good works this just seems a mighty shame.
    Tell me, do you also belong to a no-blacks/jews country club because it's good for business? jeesh.

    Posted by: stephen | Jul 30, 2010 9:43:17 AM

  10. What an idiot! Apparently it is Mr. Emmer that doesn't get the BIG picture. Although the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations can donate obscene amounts of money to candidates, we also have the right to voice our disagreement and shop elsewhere. Yes, that too is called free speech Mr Emmer.

    Goodbye Target!!!

    Posted by: matt | Jul 30, 2010 9:47:35 AM

  11. Yea, dude - It's also free speech for people to protest and boycott. He's clueless.

    Posted by: KFLO | Jul 30, 2010 10:57:43 AM

  12. well here is my free speech, i am no longer shopping at target and asking all my family and friends to do the same..........

    Posted by: Turlie | Jul 30, 2010 11:21:29 AM

  13. Wow. The more press I see from Target and now this guy, the more comfortable I feel not ever spending another cent at Target. How is anti-gay legislation anything but personal?

    Posted by: g_whiz | Jul 30, 2010 11:32:04 AM

  14. If we really need something we should all shop at yard sales. We should also boycott Christmas.

    Posted by: Arthur | Jul 30, 2010 12:05:43 PM

  15. My SF brothers and sisters contact the board of supervisors. Target has been trying to get into SF for over 15 years now. If they ssee that it could hurt their chances of opening new stores in one of the US's major cities this also will force Target to reconsider.

    Posted by: Tom | Jul 30, 2010 12:09:40 PM

  16. Actions speak louder than words... and so it goes for Target. Guess I will no longer feel the need to spend my dollars at Target anymore either... it was their opportunity to make a stand for my human rights. And so it goes!

    Posted by: GW | Jul 30, 2010 12:13:33 PM

  17. 1. This is "free speech", it's a lump of cash given to a political candidate in thinly veiled act of bribery. Any idea that it is denigrates the idea of "free speech". Free speech is more than cash.

    2. Screeming that something you said is "free speech" does not insulate you against criticism or critique. Yet many people seem to think it does. Your opinions aren't golden.

    Posted by: missanthrope | Jul 30, 2010 12:41:21 PM

  18. This money equals speech argument drives me crazy because what it says is if you are rich you have more speech than poor people. You want to fix democracy, limit political contributions to $5 MAXIMUM.

    Posted by: Shawn | Jul 30, 2010 12:55:11 PM

  19. target is able to buy influence wherever it wants but must remmber that i am also able to buy wherever i want. being committmed to LGBT rights must be consistent. you cn't give some money to issues then turn around and support somebody preaching hate it is a double standard.

    Posted by: walter | Jul 30, 2010 2:37:01 PM

  20. @John In Houston: "Respecting freedom of speech is not the same thing as accepting others' points of view as your own."
    Funny enough, that's exactly what the people who are not supporting gays say.

    Posted by: Sam | Jul 31, 2010 12:28:08 PM

  21. Everyone is missing the real point to this donation folly.....donating to the anti-gay candidate is not the real issue. The real issue is Target donating in hopes of getting some kickbacks from the candidate, should he be elected. It's definitely an ethical/moral dilemma, but not from an anti-gay standpoint, but as an unethically business bribery issue.

    Posted by: BlueEyes | Aug 5, 2010 2:10:14 PM

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