Friday, July 23, 2010

Reader Letter: Target and the Politics of Diversity

This letter from Targeting GLBT reader David Weiss speaks for itself:
“Dare. Dream. Do.” Target Corporation uses those words to brand its diversity commitment. “Dare not. Damn. Don’t.” might accurately brand Tom Emmer’s position on full civil rights for gay and lesbian persons. But Target recently chose Emmer as recipient of their $150,000 expression of free speech through a contribution to a PAC seeking to get Emmer elected as governor.

Target is one of the highest profile corporations to be publicly supportive of LGBT persons. Tom Emmer is the only major gubernatorial candidate with avowedly anti-gay views. Besides authoring the 2007 constitutional amendment that sought to ban same-sex marriage, Emmer has tried to alter wording in other bills to insure that same-sex couples are excluded from protections provided to other Minnesota families. Some families just aren’t worthy to dare, dream, or do in Emmer’s book.

Gregg Steinhafel, president and CEO, asserts on the company website that Target is committed to “foster an inclusive culture,” “strengthening the communities where we do business,” and “to play an active role in [their] progress.” Target has defended their PAC donation, saying it was “based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.” Apparently diversity is not such an issue. So Target thinks its bottom line will be helped by creating a Minnesota under Emmer where an inclusive culture will be under attack and where LGBT persons will see community progress rolled back.

Well, I have about $1000 of annual spending I’ve done at Target for each of the past ten years that think otherwise. I’m willing to bet I have 150 friends who agree, and probably another 15,000 people I don’t know, but who also care enough about LGBT diversity and justice to offer Target a little tutorial on the intersection between diversity and “retail and business interests.” Redirecting dollars for diversity; like Target says, let’s dare, dream, and do.

David R. Weiss is the author of To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical reflections on sexuality, spirituality and the wideness of God's welcome (2008, Langdon Street Press). A theologian, writer, poet and hymnist committed to doing “public theology,” David lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and is a self-employed speaker and writer around issues of sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. You can reach him at

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