More Local Reaction to Target Campaign Contribution

In continuing coverage of the Target Corporation campaign contribution story, the PNC interviewed local Pagans for their reaction.  Robin Grimm lives in Minneapolis and is a prominent member of the Pagan community.  Paul Anders is a Solitary living in the Rochester area.

To read our previous article about the cause and background of the issue, plus an interview with a Minneapolis GLBT Pagan who works for Target, please go here.

Late last week, Laura Hedlund (right) and Sue Skog, both of Eagan, Minn., protested in front of a Target store. Photo credit - Craig Lassig

Question:  In general, what do you think about corporations and unions spending funds on political issues?

Robin: Generally I am opposed to anything other than individual human beings being able to contribute to political campaigns or political issue campaigning. Corporations, unions, etc. are all made up of individuals that have the right to have their voices heard. Non-biological entities have no business in politics.

Paul: I don’t like how much money is in politics.  It makes it hard for individuals to be heard.  I guess all that money is just how it is, though.  I believe in freedom of speech and I guess if a guy believes in that he can’t just say that only some people get it.  Groups should be able to express an opinion on most anything and if you want to express a political opinion you need to use cash to do it.

Question:  What do you know of Target Corp and their interactions in the GLBT community?

Paul: From everything I’ve heard about them they are about the least evil corporation around.  The Pagans I know that work there have no problems.  Gay friendly doesn’t even begin to say how they are.  They’ve given millions to support glbt events and causes.

Robin: In general I understand Target to be a big supporter of the Twin Cities Pride event, and to have a strong glbt employee organization. I also have long felt that with their 5% contributions back to the communities in which they do business that they were a good corporate citizen.

QUESTION:  What is your reaction to their contribution to MN Forward?

Robin: I am greatly dismayed not only by this particular contribution but also the Supreme Court decision that made this possible, and I am fearful for what this means for the future of our already weak republic. I find Tom Emmer to be a particularly odious politician and I don’t think Target had a clue what they were doing when they made this contribution. I read in an AP article that MN Forward is staffed largely by Pawlenty cronies, which would seem to give the lie to their claims of bipartisan support. They claim that the decision is based on business issues, but you cannot separate a candidate’s positions: you support the entire package and with this donation Target is supporting not only discrimination against GLBT people, but also the Arizona immigration law and other extreme, hateful positions.

Paul: They can do what they like, but I think that no matter who or what a company gives money to they are going to make people unhappy.  MN Forward talks a good game, but we’ll see how bi-partisan they are in who they run ads for, won’t we?

Question:  Will this impact if you continue to patron Target?

Paul: No.  I have friends in both the gay and Pagan community who work there and it’s one of the few places they can work and be treated right.  Look at all the small towns and cities that Target is in and you can bet that in some of those places Target is one of the few employers who don’t treat them like freaks or will even hire them.  And give them Domestic partner benefits to boot.  Squaring all the good that they do for so many of us against a campaign contribution, it’s sheer lack of perspective to boycott them.  Who are you really hurting?  Where are you going to shop, Walmart?  This old queer will continue shopping at Target, but I am sending them a letter that expresses my disagreement with them getting into politics so directly.

Robin: Absolutely, and this sucks, because I liked Target. They have a lot of good stuff at reasonable prices, they are very convenient and have friendly staff. It is going to be hard to find alternate sources because they supply so many needed items under one roof, but they are going to see a lot fewer of my gay dollars.

Question: Does the donation of funds to a candidate that is perceived as hostile to GLBT issues by Target make you question the sincerity of their commitment to GLBT rights?

Robin: Yes and also their intelligence, to think that you can support some of a candidate’s positions but not all.

Paul: I think Target has long put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting GLBT rights.  I was angry at first, but now that I’ve thought about it, I’ve voted and given money to candidates that I don’t like everything they stand for.  I voted for Obama, gave money to him, and worked for his campaign and I can’t tell much difference between his view on if I can marry or Emmers.  I wonder if Target is regretting this as much as I’ve regretting voting for some of the candidates I’ve voted for.  A few mayors come to mind.

Question: Is supporting a ‘pro business’ candidate with Emmers social views diminishing your estimation of the priority that Target has historically shown in support of the GLBT community?

Paul: What you are really asking is if I am angry because Target is giving money to a Republican anti-gay marriage candidate instead of a Democratic anti-gay marriage candidate.

You know what I’m angry about?  That we don’t have a pro-gay-marriage candidate for Governor.  That companies like Target think they need to push for mostly Republicans to get into office because they think the Democratic candidates will make it harder for them to stay in business.  People up in the Cities may not be seeing this so much, but we are in a world of hurt in greater Minnesota.  Businesses are going under, we are still losing jobs, and companies aren’t hiring back.  I’m not a lover of corporations and I’ve been a union man for almost as long as I’ve been a DFLer, but the Democrats need to stop driving away businesses from our state.  So I guess what we should be angry about is that there wasn’t a pro gay-marriage and pro jobs and economic growth candidate for target to throw some money at.

Robin: Yes it diminishes my estimate of their social vs. fiscal priorities. It is never good business to support discrimination. . and the fact than their CEO, Mr. Steinhafel, has also contributed to the campaign of Michelle Bachman (among others)  further calls into question his sincerity.

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