Retail giant Target is under fire from gay rights advocates for making a $150,000 contribution to an anti-gay GOP gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota.
The donation, which was made earlier this month, was used to fund television ads for Republican Tom Emmer, an opponent of gay marriage who has ties to controversial Christian rock band You Can Run But You Cannot Hide.
You Can Run But You Cannot Hide's front man Bradlee Dean made startling statements in May saying that Muslims who call for the execution of homosexuals are "more moral than even the American Christians," according to the Minnesota Independent.
Emmer reportedly referred to the band as "nice people," although they don't agree on everything.
Following news of the donation, pro-gay group Human Rights Campaign (HRC), who previously gave Target a 100 percent approval rating for their treatment of gay employees, issued a statement saying they were "very disappointed" with the retail chains actions.
"Target has worked hard to create a fair and equitable workplace for its LGBT employees, and should be proud of its leadership in this area. It is for this reason that HRC is very disappointed in Target's significant monetary contribution to Minnesota Forward, a group supporting the most clearly anti-LGBT candidate for Governor in Minnesota," the group said on Monday.
"HRC finds it puzzling that Target would take great steps to support LGBT inclusiveness while simultaneously helping a candidate who shamelessly rejects equality for LGBT Minnesotans," they added.
Change.org also spoke out against the funding saying that Target's donation "flies in the face of their corporate practice, and sends a message that a politics based on fear and hatred toward LGBT people is acceptable."
Others have called for boycotts of the store.
In response to the controversy, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel e-mailed store employees in Minnesota assuring them that his support of the LGBT community is "unwavering" and that the donation was meant to support business related objectives such as economic growth.
"Let me be very clear, Target's support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company," Steinhafel said, although many in the gay community seem unconvinced.
"One thing is clear, you can't say you are pro-gay and then support anti-gay politics," wrote Louise Brooks, director of Integrity, an LGBT caucus in the Episcopal Church. "You can't take our hard earned money and then give it to an anti-gay politician and expect us to keep coming back."
"We enjoyed the bargains we got at Target but frankly, my family can't afford to shop there anymore," she said.