08/04/2010 02:05 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Target Depends on Gay Designers for Fashion Cred, Yet Gives Money to Anti-Gay Candidates -- We Call Foul

By Andrew Harmon

If you typed "gay" into Google News last Wednesday you got a doozy in subsequent search results: Target has donated a cool $150,000 to a Minnesota campaign aiding state Rep. Tom Emmer in his quest to become another homophobic governor. This in a state otherwise known for its liberal politics (i.e. Senator Al Franken).

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said the donation to a group supporting a staunch opponent to gay marriage rights does not belie his company's "unwavering" commitment to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

And yet we take issue.

Target is all about branding. You can get Goldfish crackers and Maybelline eyeshadow at Wal-Mart, but Target makes you feel special and somehow vaguely chic for buying said drugstore eyeshadow in its massive stores. It can do so because of marketing tools like its fashion designer collaborations that are reliable generators of fawning press for the retailer.

My SSLA colleague Rakhee Bhatt and I counted numerous openly gay designers (and plenty of ostensibly gay designers) who have participated in Target designer projects over the past several seasons. Among them? Oh, merely Zac Posen, Jean Paul Gaultier, the late Alexander McQueen, and ... well, scan the list of Target designer collaborations and you'll get plenty of other mentions from the LGBT community.

And if these designers have any balls (we're convinced that McQueen would've eagerly caused a scene were he still among us, sigh), they'll speak out about this double standard. Unless they're merely happy with their fat Target paychecks. Thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, corporations now have the right to spend unlimited cash on political campaigns. But that doesn't mean we can't call them out when it's beyond warranted to do so.

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