HRC ‘Grappling’ with Overall Response to Anti-Gay Corporate Donations, Still Telling People to Shop at Target

This week, the Human Rights Campaign announced that talks had broken down between it and Target regarding the corporation's major donation to MN Forward, a conservative political PAC which funded campaign ads for anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

Target_emmer In response, HRC said it would inject $150,00 into the campaigns of gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton, as well as fund pro-equality legislative candidates and pro-LGBT causes.

The Target donation to MN Forward has inspired a nationwide boycott of Target stores by progressive group MoveOn. However, HRC is refusing to call for a boycott, and, via its iPhone app, is actually still suggesting that LGBT people shop there.

Michelangelo Signorile talked to HRC's Fred Sainz yesterday about the contradiction:

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 was started as a guide of what the best employers are for LGBT people…It is not meant to be a statement on a company’s wholistic 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 says it's hard to quickly change the CEI and that the group doesn't want to make a "knee-jerk" response to Target's actions. He says HRC is trying to "grapple" with the changes regarding corporate donations to candidates following the Supreme Court ruling. Sainz also says that HRC won't take Target's money if it wants to sponsor any tables at its dinners around the country.

There's much more to the conversation and you can listen to it HERE.

Maybe an update to the iPhone app that would inform people about the Target situation? Just a thought.

In related news, institutional investors in Target are demanding the corporation revamp its donation process:

Imprudent donations can potentially have a major negative impact on company reputations and business if they don't carefully and fully assess a candidate's positions," said Tim Smith, a senior vice president at Walden Asset Management, one of three asset management firms that this week filed a resolution asking the retail giant to overhaul its campaign donation policies. He cautioned that funding ballot initiatives, as many corporations have done, "can similarly backfire."

The three management firms sponsoring the resolution — Calvert Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management and Walden — together hold $57.5 million of Target stock. Other institutional investors, including the giant New York state pension fund and union investment managers, are considering co-signing the resolution, which calls on Target's independent directors to review the criteria and risks in making donations to organizations active in political campaigns.


  1. ColinATL says

    Happy to see institutional investors signing on to revamp corporate donation practices. Republican CEOs are much more likely to listen to their big investors than they are the LGBT community.

  2. Jim says

    Please stop giving money to HRC. These insiders are not a part of any community to which I belong — or want to belong.

  3. Rob says

    At least some institutional investors understand what Target has done (and other companies may do) to its business model by making such stupid political donations even if HRC doesn’t get it. I’ll be damned if I support Target and its bigoted actions regardless of their 100% [Corporate] Equality Index ranking given them by HRC. What a joke! This is just one more reason why I’ve not renewed my HRC membership!

  4. chasmader says

    Today’s HRC is much more focused on the parties they throw for themselves and selling T-Shirts than actually doing anything real.

  5. ty says

    So, the corporate equality index is inaccurate and arbitrary? I wonder how many other companies are incorrectly rated??

  6. jrp001 says

    um… it’s in the HRC’s battle cry:

    – “what do we want?”
    – “equal rights!”

    – “when do we want it?”
    HRC: “right after you write us a check!”

  7. Dennis says

    One thing I’m a little nervous amount – it was HRC that was ‘negotiating’ with Target about making this right and those negotiations broke down. I hope HRC didn’t screw it up and piss them off. I assume they would have found another outlet to make good on their horrible decision, but I don’t know if that is the case. I am a former donor to HRC. I’m grateful for their hard work, but I feel like they are out of touch and, to use corporate speak, for a long time have needed a re-org!

  8. Mike says

    The HRC is just ineffectively trying to be the NAACP of the gay community and they are failing at just about every turn.

    They don’t really hold any sway over the community choosing to do or not do something and every time they try to “save the day” they end up showing how cowardly they are.

    Activism shouldn’t have boardmembers or CEOs.

  9. ricky says

    What seems clear is that HRC has little or no influence in the corporate arena.

    Target’s decisions regarding gays and lesbians were simply good business as they tried to distinguish themselves from Wal-Mart and break into suburban and urban markets. HRC tagged along – influencing nothing – and essentially doing nothing — the information about the pattern of anti-gay political giving by Target’s top Executives was readily available and had been for years — HRC was either too lazy or too incompetent to connect the dots. That, even now, HRC refuses to change Target’s rating – is indicative of their powerlessness and uselessness in this arena.

    HRC has a place in gay and lesbian politics – but their need to pretend that they have a place a America’s corporate table is embarrassing – and sad. HRC needs to stop pretending they have power and influence they do not have – be honest about what they can – and cannot do – and maybe then – and only then – can we take them seriously.

  10. Arthur says

    I’ve mistrusted the HRC for many years. Except for the fact that they happen to be queers, they’d make great Republicans.

  11. Joe says

    Go to and share your opinion directly with these Obama and Target defending so called leaders.

  12. misanthrope says

    So the HRC is flailing like usual? Where’s the news content here?

    They’re probably trying to decide between to how much to appear like an organization concerned with equal rights and how much to extort out of Target.

    Mark my words, Target’s solution if negociated with the HRC will involved a sizable donation to the HRC itself to “make it right”.

  13. says

    Arrgh, I hate being “that guy,” but it’s spelled “holistic,” not “wholistic.”

    Okay, you may make fun of me now for being a spelling Nazi. Sometimes, I just can’t help myself.

  14. Christopher Lines says

    HRC needs to quit negotiating and just call an all out boycott. I’ve been boycotting since last year as have many of my friends both LGBTQ and LGTBQ Friendly (a.k.a straight).