This piece is guest-posted by Sara Haji, a Nation intern and freelance writer based in New York City.
Kicking up a firestorm in their home state and beyond, Minnesota-based companies Best Buy and Target recently gave $250,000 in combined donations to MN Forward, a political action committee that backs anti–gay rights gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.
Emmer’s views are fairly standard for a Republican candidate these days, though he is the only major Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who opposes civil rights for the LGBT community and who goes out of his way to change language in bills that might make them applicable to same-sex couples. He was the author of state constitutional legislation "protecting" traditional marriage, and he supports and donates to a Christian rock band called You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, known widely for its kill-the-gays rhetoric.
Interestingly, both Target and Best Buy have repeatedly earned "100%" scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, so the progressive community is understandably confused by the companies’ departure from its normally gay-friendly policies and posture. The big-box retailers extend domestic partner benefits to their employees and advocate for the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, and argue that their support for Tom Emmer simply hinges on his "pro-business" attitude.
But the fact is that, as of last week, Target and Best Buy’s donations comprised a full third of MN Forward’s business contributions, and the money is fueling a campaign that undermines the retailers’ equitable business practices. In response, the HRC is sponsoring an open letter to Target and Best Buy asking the corporations to match their MN Forward donations with similar ones to candidates who support equality. Let the companies know that backing Emmer for tax-break profits will unravel a hard-earned reputation among a loyal consumer base and quickly, become bad for business.