Just as debate over the Obama administration's support of marriage equality heats up nationwide, the Target Corporation has followed suit by launching a charitable T-shirt line in support of gay pride.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that the Minnesota-based discount retain chain has created a total of 10 T-shirts, including two designed by rock singer Gwen Stefani, as part of a decade-long partnership with the Family Equality Council, a Washington, D.C.-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group. Target will reportedly donate up to $120,000 of sales proceeds to the Council.
"[Target] is 100 percent committed to the goal of families being respected in all communities including parents who happen to be LGBT," Jennifer Chrisler, the council's executive director, told the Tribune. "This is just a continuation of that support."
Interestingly, the T-shirts are reportedly only available online through the month of June, a move which comes across as somewhat half-baked to some authorities. "I would have been more impressed if they had actually stocked all their stores with the shirts," ad executive Tim Bennett, who specializes in marketing to the gay community, told Marketplace.org.
Two years ago, Target faced a backlash when it was revealed the company had made a controversial political donation to MN Forward, a group supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, a vocal gay marriage opponent. Quickly, anti-Target groups were created on Facebook, and Lady Gaga dropped an exclusive album deal with the retailer in a show of support.
Even so, Target officials staunchly defended their company. As NewsOK reports, the company has continued to be a major sponsor for the Pride festivities in Minneapolis, and also scores high on the Human Rights Campaign's corporate equality index, which rates businesses on workplace policies for LGBT employees.
"Target is not anti-gay," Michael Francis, Target's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, told The Los Angeles Times. "It's important to set the record straight and provide some context."
Take a look at other well-known companies which have spoken up in support of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights:
A statement on The Official Microsoft Blog titled "Marriage Equality in Washington State Would Be Good for Business" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/21/microsoft-gay-marriage_n_1220800.html" target="_hplink">reads in part</a>: Marriage equality in Washington would put employers here on an equal footing with employers in the six other states that already recognize the committed relationships of same-sex couples - Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. This in turn will help us continue to compete for talent.
In late January Nike was among the 6 companies -- including Microsoft -- <a href="http://la.gopride.com/news/article.cfm/articleid/25521849/microsoft-nike-endorse-gay-marriage-in-washington" target="_hplink">who endorsed an effort to make Washington the seventh state to legalize gay marriage</a>. In a letter to Governor Chris Gregoire, the companies wrote: "We write you today to show the support of our respective companies for SB 6239 and HB 2516 recognizing marriage equality for same-sex couples." Washington state-based Vulcan, RealNetworks, Group Health Cooperative and Concur also signed the letter.
"Amazon is joining other Pacific Northwest companies, including Microsoft, Starbucks and Nike, in support of Washington state's marriage equality bills," <a href="http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2017392956_amazon02.html" target="_hplink">Amazon said in a statement released</a> in early February by spokeswoman Mary Osako. "The spirit of these bills is consistent with our longstanding employment practices."
In 2008 Levi Strauss & Company filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court explaining the economic advantages of gay marriage. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/27/business/media/27adco.html" target="_hplink">The New York Times notes</a> that the label "also signed on to sponsor a programming block on Logo, the gay cable channel owned by MTV Networks, and developed a marketing partnership with "Milk," the Focus Features movie about Harvey Milk, the gay civil rights leader."
<a href="http://www.americanapparel.net/legalizegay/" target="_hplink">From the company's website</a>: <blockquote>American Apparel believes that sexuality should be celebrated, not condemned. When California voters passed Prop 8 in 2008, we let our community know we would support whatever stand they wanted to take. American Apparel believes in freedom, expression and equality, things that are inherently condemned in the prohibition of gay marriage. After printing a few hundred Legalize Gay t-shirts for a rally near our factory in downtown Los Angeles, the company received thousands of requests from people all over the world who asked for us to expand it. With many of our employees and customers identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, we are a company that is vocal about our support for the protection of gay rights. Scores of our employees were on the frontlines of protests in cities across America, handing out hundreds of Legalize Gay t-shirts to supporters, and putting them in our store windows in protest of violence against gays and discriminatory court decisions. We also had a lot of fun at PRIDE rallies and celebrations. We've since given away over 50,000 of these shirts, run protest advertisements nationwide and even partnered with HRC for their enormous march on Washington.</blockquote>
In 2008 the company donated $100,000 in an effort to help defeat California's Proposition 8. <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-10074793-37.html" target="_hplink">A message on Apple's "Hot News" site read in part:</a> <blockquote>"Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees' same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person's fundamental rights -- including the right to marry -- should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8."</blockquote>
In 2008 Google <a href="http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/our-position-on-californias-no-on-8.html" target="_hplink">came out against Prop 8</a> with the following statement on their official blog: <blockquote>"As an Internet company, Google is an active participant in policy debates surrounding information access, technology and energy. Because our company has a great diversity of people and opinions -- Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, all religions and no religion, straight and gay -- we do not generally take a position on issues outside of our field, especially not social issues. So when Proposition 8 appeared on the California ballot, it was an unlikely question for Google to take an official company position on. However, while there are many objections to this proposition -- further government encroachment on personal lives, ambiguously written text -- it is the chilling and discriminatory effect of the proposition on many of our employees that brings Google to publicly oppose Proposition 8. While we respect the strongly-held beliefs that people have on both sides of this argument, we see this fundamentally as an issue of equality. We hope that California voters will vote no on Proposition 8 -- we should not eliminate anyone's fundamental rights, whatever their sexuality, to marry the person they love."</blockquote>
The home improvement super store drew the ire of anti-gay activists when it came out in support of gay rights -- including gay marriage. <a href="http://action.afa.net/item.aspx?id=2147496231" target="_hplink">The American Family Association called for a boycott</a> of the company in June, but Home Depot has remained committed to the cause. In October Home Depot spokesman Steve Holmes released a statement regarding the AFA boycott <a href="http://srph.it/noJrgo" target="_hplink">which read in part</a>, "Our response on this has been and continues to be that we respect the diversity of all people and maintain an inclusive culture."
The department store recently came under fire from The American Family Association for releasing a catalog featuring an image of two grooms perched atop a wedding cake. Macy's <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/02/01/416297/macys-under-attack-for-catalogue-cover-featuring-same-sex-couple-atop-wedding-cake/" target="_hplink">responded to the AFA saying</a>: "Macy's proudly serves a large and diverse marketplace, including customers with a wide range of needs and preferences. We strive to embrace customers of all ethnic backgrounds, ages, races, faith traditions, genders and lifestyles through the products we sell and the content of our marketing."
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO Of Goldman Sachs
Earlier this year Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein asked viewers to join a "majority of Americans who support marriage equality" in a video for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group. "America's corporations learned long ago that equality is just good business and it's the right thing to do," Blankfein says in the new video.