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Monthly Archive: July 2010



July 2010



From MN Progressive Project: Target Corporation Responds Poorly as News Goes Nationwide

Written by , Posted in Feminism

Target Corporation Responds Poorly as News Goes Nationwide

by: BearBudMN

Last week the news of Target Corporation’s $150,000.00 donation to Minnesota Forward made it’s way around Minnesota.  Particularly Minnesota’s LGBTQ Communities. Three different stories were written in the Twin Cities LGBT News Blog The  There were also two different blog posts here on the Minnesota Progressive Project.  A boycott of Target group has been created on Facebook over the weekend with close to 100 members already signed on.

As of last Friday many of us who started contacting Target about our disappointment over the corporations decision to support Minnesota Forward most likely got a return email that was very much like this one:

Dear Philip Lowe,

Target has long believed that engaging in civic activities is an important and necessary element of operating a national retail business. What’s more important than any one candidate’s stance on a particular issue is how we nurture thoughtful, long-term growth in the state of Minnesota.

To continue to grow and create jobs and opportunity in our home state, we believe it is imperative to be engaged in public policy and the political process. That is why we are members of organizations like the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. And that is why we decided to contribute to MN Forward.

MN Forward’s objective is to elect candidates from both parties who will make job creation and economic growth a top priority. We operate best when working collaboratively with legislators on both sides of the aisle.  In fact, if you look at our Federal PAC contributions year to date, you will see that they are very balanced between Republicans and Democrats. For more information please visit, and view the Civic  Activity page.

Target has a large stake in Minnesota’s future, which is why it is so important to be able to provide jobs, serve guests, support communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders. As an international business that is proud to call Minnesota home, it is critical that we have a business environment that allows us to be competitive. Our guests, team members, communities and shareholders depend on Target to remain competitive.

Please don’t hesitate to call me at (612) 307-5075 using the reference number 1-452594505 if you would like to discuss this further.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.


Target Executive Offices

Here was my response to that email.


Dear Dylan,

The very fact that Target Corporation has placed a business and it’s corporate interests above the civil rights of individual people, and supported a candidate that is against the very principle’s that Target claims to be in favor of, is unacceptable.

I will continue to no longer support Target Corporation and encourage other members of the LGBTQ communities to follow suit.

I will not accept or tolerate any explanation of what Target has done in this regard, except refusing to further fund Forward Minnesota and Tom Emmer’s Campaign.

In addition to Tom Emmer’s claim against the LGBTQ communities, Tom Emmer is also in favor of reducing Minnesota’s Minimum Wage requirement, which will give more power to corporations to further do damage to Minnesota’s already hurting work force.

I therefore will not accept the answer that I have been given, and now regard Target as a lying ally of the LGBTQ communities.  Come Monday morning, I will begin my communications with the Human Rights Campaign to see if we can make the move against Target a nationalized activist campaign.



That email was followed with the following response.


Dear Philip Lowe,

Thanks for taking the time to share your additional thoughts about your experience. Our support of causes and candidates is based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.

Your feedback helps us understand the changes you’d like to see at Target. Because we’re always reviewing our policies and services, I’ve shared your comments with the appropriate team.


Target Guest Relations

In other words a professionally polite “screw you.”

The news of Target’s decision to fund Tom Emmer’s PAC went beyond Minnesota when I wrote a blog article about it on Pam’s House Blend.  In the comments of my blog post was the following.


Mr. Steinhafel,
I have long recognized Target’s progressive policies toward its LGBT employees and have thusly rewarded it with my business, even in the face of miserable customer service experiences at your XXXX location near my home.  My household easily spends over $1,000 at Target each month.  Due to Target’s heavy support of gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, my household’s spending will now be directed elsewhere.

In 1985 I was a leader in the economic response to bigotry at the ballot box in Houston when anti-discrimination policies of the city were taken to a referendum.  Major financial institutions and other businesses suffered losses of income due to their support of bigotry, though many became enlightened about workplace fairness in the process and reformed their corporate human resources policies.  Twenty-five years later I cannot abide by Target’s betrayal of the trust of LGBT consumers, regardless of the “pro-jobs” rhetoric your firm has proliferated in response to other questions about support for Emmer.

Corporations and politicians are either with me or against me.  To stand lukewarm or conflicted is just as bad as outright hate.

With kindest regards,
David Phillips

And this one:


The following is an email I sent to Target, via their web page. Thanks for the corporate contact and address, as I will also be sending a message directly to the CEO.

For all the good I’ve always heard about Target doing for the local communities it serves, it was quite a shock to read an article about Target giving $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, which supports the gubernatorial campaign of Tom Emmer, an opponent of gay marriage. The article (… states that Target’s response was that “Target supports causes and candidates based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.” I suspect, and hope, that Target is going to find out that this contribution is going to have an adverse affect on your retail and business interests, as it appears that you hopefully will realize that the LGBT community doesn’t like getting stabbed in the back, and will realize the hypocrisy you espouse. I personally don’t do a lot of shopping at Target, as there isn’t one close to me, but I will now make every effort to avoid Target, and let my friends in the LGBT community know what you’re really up to. I don’t think they’ll react too sympathetically with your decision.

And lastly


If Minnesota Forward’s aim is to create businesses and jobs, for the love of God, why are they accepting money from the likes of Target (Walmart lite)…?!

These types of mega-retailers kill local businesses and apparently would rather shell out $150,000 to a political organization than pay their average employees a living wage.


It just so happens that as I was proofreading this blog post, I got a returned phone call from the national office of the Human Rights Campaign.  HRC Press Secretary Paul Guequierre sent me the following statement as he told me that HRC is attempting to work directly with Target over their choice to support Minnesota Forward.


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. We have reached out to Target to express our concern over this contribution. While political contributions to support candidates are not a factor in HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, 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.

The news of Target Corporations support of Tom Emmer is also in a newspaper in San Francisco where they are reportedly building a new store there.

How will Target deal with the news that what they have done in Minnesota also affects them in other parts of the country?  We have yet to see.  This is getting very interesting to say the least.


As always, corporations make decisions to support candidates and causes that I may not always support myself. It would be difficult to function in America without patronizing at least some of these corporations. But this? I hope Target reconsiders.



July 2010





July 2010





July 2010



I Miss Air Conditioning (a wimpy girl’s confession)

Written by , Posted in Adventures

When I moved here I was told a couple of things: it doesn’t snow in London, and the summers are full of cloudy and rainy days.

Neither of these have proved true this year. We had a few snow ‘storms’ this winter. Nothing major, but since Londoners claim it never snows here, the government does not stockpile the supplies needed to prevent the city from shutting down completely over an inch of snow.

And since exams ended summer has arrived, and it feels a bit like summer anywhere else I’ve lived. Only two days have I felt cool enough to wear jeans instead of a skirt or dress. We’ve had some muggy days, most of which were here when my parents were visiting, which was a blessing and a curse. A curse because we were tourists and thus riding the tube and walking loads, but a blessing because their hotel room had air conditioning.

That’s the other thing – because it apparently doesn’t get hot here, very little is air conditioned. The tube is a sauna, and buses are swamps. On the bus ride home from the theater Thursday night the HEAT was on. No joke. Movie theaters are sometimes air conditioned (although weakly), and restaurants are hit and miss. Some places have ice for drinks; others serve them warm. Lucky for me my apartment is in the basement, and the curtains keep out most of the light. Plus, someone left a fan here so I’ve plugged that in and am basking in it. 

Michelle visited this week and we did a lot of fun tourist things – London Eye, a West End Show, walking around town – but she’s off to Munich and I’m glad. Not because I wanted her to leave – we were having so much fun – but because it means I do not have to get on a tube, or a bus, or really leave my apartment other than to get some groceries and do my laundry. I shall be sitting in front of the fan working on my thesis and watching movies until the sun sets, at which point I might venture out for a walk just to make sure my legs still work.

I know those of you in NYC – and even in Seattle, where it’s been in the 90s – have had it worse. I hope you are able to cool down soon as well! 



July 2010



Fourth of July in England

Written by , Posted in Adventures

Yes, they have 4th of July here. Of course, to them it’s simply the day between the 3rd and 5th of July.

Friday Kate, Richard and I headed up to Birmingham for a fun summer weekend. Friday was fairly lazy, with the exception of preparations for the next day’s garden party. This included a very taxing five minutes making brownies from a box.

Saturday morning Richard and I went over to the start area for the half-marathon. It is run all along the canals from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, so the start was staggered, with groups starting according to expected finish time, and crossing the start mats one at a time. It was interesting to run that way – only the occasional person passing me, otherwise nothing but canal stretching out ahead and behind. The sun was intense, and it was hotter than I would have liked, but I finished and enjoyed myself.

After freshening up we were joined back at the house by some of Janet’s friends for a 4th of July garden party. It was nice to still get hot dogs and potato salad even though I am 7,000 miles from home, but I do I think I’ll be including Pimm’s in all my future 4th of July celebrations. It’s so refreshing and so tasty. Janet was kind and surprised Kate and me (the only ones from the states there) with a lovely cake that had a flag on top of it. 
Yesterday we enjoyed picking up the kracken (Holly monster) from puppy camp and went for a nice walk that gave us some excellent views of the area. There was also a carnival on the high street (USA-themed!), and I managed to scare myself silly by going on a terrifying carnival ride. It was fantastic.
The weather here has continued to be nice – warm but not hot, cloudy but with some sun. I feel for my friends back on the east coast – I can’t bear to think of being in that ridiculous heat all week.

Tomorrow Michelle arrives, so it’s time to explore some more of this fantastic city before I head home to Seattle next month.



July 2010



That’s dedication

Written by , Posted in Feminism

Google to offer gay staff extra pay to allow for tax inequality with straight couples

By Scott Warren

Last updated at 6:14 PM on 1st July 2010

INTERNET giant Google today began paying its gay staff more than  heterosexual employees in the latest example of its lavish perks culture.

Lesbian and homosexual staff will get extra wages to make up for higher taxes  they have to pay.

Google is already famed as an extremely benevolent employer, giving its  workforce free food, free laundry and five months’ maternity leave on full pay. New payment: Gay Google employees will now be given extra pay to allow for a tax that is not levied on straight employees

New payment: Gay Google employees will now be given extra pay to allow for a tax that is not levied on straight employees

And given the competitive nature of California’s Silicon Valley, where  companies use extra perks to attract top employees, more are expected to follow  suit, experts said.

The search engine decided it was only fair to bump up the salaries of its gay  staff, a spokesman said.

Under U.S. law, when a firm offers health insurance as a benefit for an  employee’s partner, it is tax-free for married couples but taxable income for  gays.

Google will make up the difference in additional pay, on average £650 a year.

The move was announced today and is being backdated to January 1.

The firm will also speed up infertility benefits for lesbian and homosexual  staff and include their partners in its compassionate leave policy.

How many of Google’s 20,600 employees will be affected by the changes is  unclear, but the company’s internal gay group — who call themselves Gayglers —  counts around 700 members. 
The measures only apply to the workforce in the U.S.

Personnel chief Laszlo Bock, Google’s ‘vice president for people operations,’  said the firm decided to act when an employee pointed out the disparity.

‘We said, “You’re right, that doesn’t seem fair,”‘ he said. He declined to  reveal how much the changes will cost Google, which made profits of £4 billion  last year.

The company is renowned for its innovative streak, and others usually follow  its lead.

‘It could have a ripple effect. When you have a high-profile company doing  anything, that tends to get into the mind of the culture, and it can have a  more diffuse effect,’ said corporate benefits consultant Kathleen Murray.

But Google has also earned a sinister reputation thanks to blunders by its  controversial Street View service, which has sent ‘camera cars’ to take  pictures along every road in Britain.

On Wednesday Claire Rowlands, 25, told how she was stunned to see a photograph  of her three-year-old son Louis naked on Street View.

He had been snapped as he played in his grandmother’s garden in Walkden,  Greater Manchester.

Google blurred out the registration plate of a car on the drive of the house –  but the image of Louis, who was wearing nothing but his shoes, was uncensored.




July 2010



Go Iceland!

Written by , Posted in Feminism

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir has married her long-term partner, her office said on Monday, making her the world’s first national leader with a same-sex spouse.

Sigurdardottir, 67, married writer Jonina Leosdottir on Sunday, the day a new law took effect defining marriage as a union between two consenting adults regardless of sex.

The two had had a civil union for years and changed this into a marriage under the new law, which was approved by parliament earlier this month.

The new law was celebrated at a church service on Sunday, which was also the international day for homosexual rights.

The prime minister’s office said Sigurdardottir had sent a message to the gathering saying the new law was a cause for celebration for all Icelanders and adding: “I have today taken advantage of this new legislation.”

The Lutheran State Church has long been split on the issue of same-sex marriage and the church congress in April did not unanimously support the new legislation. The bishop of Iceland has urged parish ministers to comply with the law.

Sigurdardottir, who has children from a previous heterosexual marriage, is the world’s only openly gay prime minister but her sexuality has never been an issue in Iceland, which, like the other Nordic states, has a history of tolerance.

Copyright 2010 Reuters.