Target's gay wedding registry ad doesn't signal changed stance on marriage amendment

Categories: GLBT, Target
Target will help this couple buy things for their wedding, but the retail giant still isn't weighing in on whether they have a right to one.
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Target may be running an ad for its online wedding registry featuring two grooms hand-in-hand, but the company's public stance on the Minnesota marriage amendment hasn't changed.

The ad seems to be an all-in celebration of same-sex couples, complete with confetti and a "that's love" chirp underneath the company logo. But the eskimo kisses here don't mean that Target's coming out against the MN marriage amendment, which, if it passes in November's vote, would make this kind of wedding unconstitutional.

Instead, the retail giant's remaining neutral, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder reiterated Friday.  "We strongly encourage our team members to exercise their right to vote in November," Snyder said in a statement.

Despite this sidestepping, Snyder's statement also says that this "current marketing" is "consistent" with the company's values. "Target is committed to diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business," Snyder said. "At the heart of our company are core values which include Target's long-standing commitment to create an environment where all of or team members and guests feel welcome, valued and respected."

It's true, Target does have a good track record of being a LGBT-friendly workplace and supporter of causes like Pride Fest. But the company's PR face isn't what has gotten it in trouble; its more behind-the-scenes political one has. Since Target's $150,000 donation to anti-gay, pro-Tom Emmer organization MN Forward in summer 2010, and the ensuing uproar (including revelations about company funding for similar politicians), the retailer has been doing damage control. It changed its political donation rules so that CEO Gregg Steinhafel can't just give to his favorite conservative causes without consulting a "Policy Committee." And at the end of May, the company announced a partnership with a national same-sex marriage advocacy group, funded to the tune of at least $100,000 through the company's "Wear It With Pride" collection.

Still, given the history, this ad--while admittedly sweet--doesn't seem to be out of character. More exciting would be if Target's politics finally got behind its marketing; if the retailer stopped hedging its bets and announced its opposition to the MN marriage amendment. It would be in good company: Thomson Reuters and General Mills are both against the constitutional change, on grounds that such a ban would be bad for business.

The ad has been running since April, spokeswoman Snyder says, but has gained attention in the past few days, getting picked up by LGBT advocacy blogs (one of which called it "kinda awesome") and bigger news outlets like ABC. More buzz followed Friday's announcement that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Target competitor Amazon, had donated $2.5 million in support of Washington state's equal marriage efforts, making him the country's biggest financial backer of gay marriage.

Here's the full ad:

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