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Target CEO Hit with Questions About Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Political Giving at Annual Meeting

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel was hammered with questions about its political donations to MN Forward on Wednesday and its support of an amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota at the company's annual meeting in Pittsburgh, Reuters reports:

Steinhafel Bill de Blasio, New York City public advocate and trustee of the New York City employees retirement system, which holds about $50 million in Target shares, said on Tuesday that he is "deeply concerned" when he sees those pension investments used unwisely.

A number of shareholders at Wednesday's meeting echoed his comments, repeatedly asking Steinhafel about the donation. Target has changed its review process for donations since the MN Forward donation, but some shareholders would like to see a more explicit apology and broader change from the company.

"Last year was a great learning experience for us," Steinhafel said as he repeatedly suggested moving onto a different topic.

"Does anybody have a question relating to our business that is unrelated to political giving? I would love to hear any question related to something else," Steinhafel said.

When asked specifically about the  marriage amendment, Steinhafel said, "Our position at this particular time is that we are going to be neutral on that particular issue, as we would be on other social issues that have polarizing points of view...We're a retail store, we welcome everybody...We have a broad team-member base, every shape and size and color. And so we are a very inclusive organization...We're going to continue to monitor, we're going to continue to assess, and see how that develops."

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  1. Target's sales are off. They claim it was the recession that did it. Funny how the sales decline coincided with the boycott by gay people, their friends and family.

    Posted by: jeffg166 | Jun 9, 2011 7:38:07 AM

  2. Blah, blah, blah.

    And my boycott continues....

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Jun 9, 2011 7:52:42 AM

  3. F*ck Target.
    F*ck Corporate.
    F*ck every CEO. Professional POS.

    Target has so many gay people working for them and DID have them shopping there...How are you going to be "Neutral" on an issue of hatred? Do you not care about your own worker's health, happiness, and safety? They ARE your company, and they are your customer. Clearly you don't care. Nice BS response when you've already made your position clear.

    Posted by: Jnyca | Jun 9, 2011 8:02:09 AM

  4. While it's important to advance our own issue, isn't this an example of why corporate financial donations to politicians are just wrong? At core here, Target was attempting to influence our political system for their own financial gain, nothing else. It really wouldn't have been that much better if they'd given to a politician who supported gay rights and was willing to give them a tax break. This kind of thing is wrong on both sides of the aisle.

    Posted by: marshallt | Jun 9, 2011 8:04:58 AM

  5. "We are a retail company...we welcome everybody..." Really? You'll take our money when behind the scene you'll try to sneak corporate money to ban rights for gay men and women?

    You may not want to talk about it, dumbass, but we do. And we are a big part of the reason your sales are off. Wal-Mart is about a mile further than your store to my home. I'd crawl it before I'd shop in a Target.

    Posted by: Bart | Jun 9, 2011 8:39:42 AM

  6. I refuse to give my money to Target. Boycot!

    Posted by: chris | Jun 9, 2011 9:01:22 AM

  7. I want to puke all over his stupid blandsome smiling mug.

    Posted by: Really? | Jun 9, 2011 9:13:21 AM

  8. Haven't spent a dollar at Target since I learned that they gave money to MN Forward. I have encouraged my straight co-workers to boycott the company as well.

    Posted by: homer | Jun 9, 2011 9:21:29 AM

  9. A) Wal-Mart is WAYYYY worse, but at least they don't try to pretend like they are supportive of us. They are completely upfront about their bigotry. Personally, I think NO gay person should ever give a cent to Wal-Mart. Target is definitely the lesser of two evils. Like Obama.

    B) Target donates money to many different local charities every time you spend money there, including LGBT ones.

    C) They usually have a huge presence at our Pride festival here in Minneapolis. There are usually d-bags lining up to get rainbow Target temporary tattoos. Can't wait to see what happens this year. Should be interesting.

    D) Best Buy did the same thing and never apologized, but people continue to villify Target. I don't get how Best Buy gets off so easy.

    Posted by: AJ | Jun 9, 2011 10:01:27 AM

  10. Being a Minneapolis resident, and working for another large Fortune 100 in town, I will say that Target is generally the biggest name in supporting Gay causes in the Twin Cities. Their names is blasted all over the Minneapolis Pride Parade, and they have a huge and active Gay Council at their headquarters. It seems so strange to me that this company, out of all of them here in Minnie, is the one having issues with the Gay Rights agenda. Target Headquarters employs what I have to assume is the largest and most "out and proud" team of homos that I know (well over half of my friends work there). How could Steinhaffel be so disconnected from the community that he employees and relies on? Many high-ranking executives at TGT are (out) gays/lesbians. He is surrounded by them at all times.

    Posted by: JoeyB | Jun 9, 2011 10:44:58 AM

  11. The best thing we can all do is boycott all Target stores including any online sales. The loss of revenue will certainly bring it home to shareholders that advocating discrimination is not a wise business decision.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Jun 9, 2011 10:59:08 AM

  12. "We're going to continue to monitor, we're going to continue to assess..."

    ...and I'm going to continue to spend my money elsewhere.

    @AJ, I boycott Best Buy, too. Perhaps the reason you haven't heard so much about them is that Best Buy is a specialty store that a lot of people can go years without shopping in, but Target is a store that its customers commonly visit once a week or even more often. I know I used to. Boycotting Target was inconvenient at first, but now it's no problem at all.

    And, of course, I've boycotted Walmart forever.

    Posted by: ohplease | Jun 9, 2011 11:21:13 AM

  13. Okay, AJ, we get it: You work for Target.

    (and I've also been boycotting Best Buy)

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Jun 9, 2011 11:24:07 AM

  14. Wow. I've just visited the MN Forward website. It's a pro-business political group that doesn't mention any social issues. So, was it Target's donation to this group that provoked your outrage? Really? Because MN Forward supported a gubernatorial candidate opposed to the same-sex marriage? Just like Barack Obama, right? This is the most ridiculous attempt to denigrate a company I've seen recently. I cannot believe that anyone would even consider boycotting Target for this. Pure nonsense. What happened? You ran out of other hate targets? Hating on Sarah Palin, gay Republicans and the Tea Party is just not good enough?

    Posted by: AG | Jun 9, 2011 11:47:22 AM

  15. I had started shopping at Meijer (a midwest discount store chain). However, they only scored a 20/100 on the HRC Equality Index, so no more Meijer for me. I really don't want to start going to K-Mart, but where else can one go?

    Posted by: Brad | Jun 9, 2011 12:04:15 PM

  16. To me anyway, that Target gives money to gay groups isn't enough if they're also funding anti-gay politicians. With campaign funding laws as they are now, the individual voter or political donor is almost meaningless. Big Business is the tail that wags the political dog.

    Target would NOT have donated money to a politician who was "good for business" if that person also supported racist causes. "Good for business" isn't, or shouldn't be all it takes to garner corporate support. I'm NOT making a direct comparison here, but it was said of Mussolini, "at least he made the trains run on time." The question is what you're willing to ignore in order to get that result, whether it be timely trains or lower taxes.

    The real fight here isn't about Target's donations to a single politician in a single election cycle, it's for Target and ALL corporations which supposedly "value" their gay customers to take a more holistic view of the politicians they support. They wouldn't support a politician with ties to the White Supremacy movement no matter how advantageous that person's tax philosophy would be to Target. So why is it still OK to donate money to politicians who are openly, even rabidly, homophobic? Because gays are still "controversial?" That's their excuse but sorry, I don't find my rights to be controversial in the least and according to polls neither do most Americans. What Target did was akin to backing Gov. George Wallace in the 1960s because he wanted to lower car registration fees. There HAS to be a point where a politician's civil rights policies trump their fiscal policies and I think we've reached it. Look around. It's no longer OK to be anti-gay. It's a dying mindset which diminishes with each passing year.

    Posted by: Codswallop | Jun 9, 2011 1:04:39 PM

  17. OK AJ, we get it. You hate Pres. Obama. It always amazes me how some Obama haters never miss an opportunity to drag him and their hatred into every single issue. Sad to say, it lessens the person's authority in my eyes. If the topic is the tornados, oh it must be because Obama did this or didn't do that. If it is the nuclear accident in Japan, oh it must be Obama's fault. If it is the mid East unrest, yes, he must've caused that. yadda yadda yadda. Give me a break.

    Posted by: Reggie | Jun 9, 2011 1:43:05 PM

  18. Brad- Support a local co-op if you can find one! They are usually very LGBTQ inclusive and socially progressive. My partner works at ours here in Michigan and at least a third of customers are LGBTQ. Find local stores, connect with people in your community :) See if you have a farmers market close to where you live.

    Posted by: drew | Jun 9, 2011 3:16:19 PM

  19. Target is our target because of the hypocrisy. They "stand" for the gays, yet donate to our enemies.

    MN Forward supports extremely right-wing candidates who are "pro-business" and anti-gay.

    Posted by: David R. | Jun 9, 2011 6:48:02 PM

  20. Target bought and is rebranding a number of Zellers stores in Canada.

    I used to be a Zellers customer, but I will not be setting foot inside one of those stores.

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 9, 2011 9:22:37 PM

  21. For anyone who complains about the "They were just looking out for their business!" excuse: They knew very well that the guy was anti-gay. So the question is, Would they give $150,000 to a pro-business Nazi? How about to a pro-business Klansman? So why is it perfectly all right to give to someone's who's bigoted against gays? And how much has it cost them? Are they getting any kickbacks now that equal how much money this boycott has lost them? The simple fact is, Target is having big problems that are being blamed on "too much focus on the groceries, not enough on clothes and furniture", problems they WEREN'T having a year ago. So even "if" the recent losses aren't 100% from our boycott, if they fired the morons who were involved in this stupid donation, have the new people admit their mistakes, we'd all flood back into the stores and that extra money would give the stores great headlines. So why aren't they doing this?

    Posted by: KevyB | Jun 20, 2011 6:57:40 AM

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