Are your choices as a consumer influenced by a retailer’s involvement in gay-rights issues?

Target is taking criticism for selling T-shirts in support of a marriage equality group. JC Penney has faced boycott threats over its gay-friendly marketing strategies. Today’s Question: Are your choices as a consumer influenced by a retailer’s involvement in gay-rights issues?

  • reggie

    Yes. When I am aware of businesses that openly and actively support civil rights, I make an effort to support them with my purchases. When businesses take an active position in opposition to civil rights, or try to promote a specific religious agenda, I make an effort to avoid them.

  • Michael

    I shop at a retailer because they have what I need to purchase. I don’t ask my grocery store for its opinion on civil rights.

  • kurt

    Did we ask this question when Target was supporting Tom Emmer because they perceived him as more business–friendly than the alternative and were then boycotted by the GLTB as being anti-gay even though they are anything but? Can’t remember. I’m tired of business constantly truckling to the whims of activists no matter what agenda is being foisted on them. I am less likely to shop at retailers who are cowed by activism.

  • Ryan

    I agree with Reggie’s position 100%, with emphasis on the “…when I am aware…”. I do not go out of my way to research business involvement in civil rights issues, but if a news outlet like MPR reports on it, I pay attention and consider altering my behavior.

  • Steve the Scenic

    Customers are free to take their business elsewhere if they don’t like the views of the person running the firm, just as they might if they were disappointed that its “organic” carrots were not organic.

    Thus, the best strategy, from the perspective of maximizing shareholder value, is probably for customers to know as little as possible about the personal opinions of a company’s boss.

    This rule is bad news for society, which could do with hearing, from time to time, the logical arguments and wisdom built on experience that, at their best, business leaders can bring. For the sake of better public debate, and the better policymaking that ought to result from it, here’s hoping that in this respect at least Target puts the interests of his shareholders second, and continues to speak out.

  • Barb

    Yes, I use HRC’s ( Human Rights Campaign) business guide to help me decide. I vote with my dollar on human rights and environmental issues 90% of the time. It’s not that hard. I still have all the options I want in consumer goods.

  • Jon

    Yeah, but any one well read on the topic should know that Microsoft, Apple, and many many others support same sex marriage.

    So any one boycotting target better give up their computer, and likely their phone as well, because the companies that are getting rich off the internet support gay marriage. Also the probably shouldn’t board a commercial airline with Boeing supporting gay marriage.

    Honestly I hope that companies just start ignoring the threat of a boycott and wait until they start seeing effects to their bottom line before assuming that it actually means anything.

    P.s. any one boycotting target should consider Walmart’s prior support for the GLBT Community before heading there.

  • Duane

    Yes, but I do not actively research their position. It would only become an issue with me if the GLBT community begins to make it an issue. Than I would support the business. I don’t feel this issue needs to become part of private businesses. Their objective should be to provide a quality product at a competitive price. I know that in my career I have worked side by side with people of the gay persuasion many time and likely do so again.

  • CarlS


    As long as it is not an objectionable group like Al-Qaeda or the Nazis I wouldn’t care; market away.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    Not really, but if I know a certain business is actively opposed to gay rights, or other civil rights issues, I tend to avoid that business. It’s really just a matter of time until the US Supreme Court wakes up and realizes that restricting gay marriage rights is a violation of the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment. It is unconstitutional when the nation recognizes gay marriage in some states but not in others. I hope Minnesota voters realize that this fall, and vote NO to this effort to codify discrimination into its Constitution.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I don’t insist others agree with me on everything before I have dealings with them, business or otherwise. There’s too much ideological tribalism already.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Besides, tactics like boycotts may change behavior, but they don’t change attitudes. Kindness changes attitudes.

  • GregX

    I completely dislike ANY company sticking it’s corporate nose and my shareholder dollars into ANY political issue. It’s not their money – its the shareholders – and until “we the shareholders” get to vote on our corporations political spending …. it should not happen at all. Put the money into the company – by maintaining staff, stock value or cash reserves. PERIOD

  • Jessica

    Yes, if the company is involving itself in politics. Specifically if they are donating money to campaigns or causes that have a history of promoting discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

  • Jim G

    Yes. I pay attention to policies that hinder certain unalienable rights: among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of the American citizen shopper. When I become aware of retailers who discriminate against others, I just shop elsewhere. Retailers who try to be as inclusive as possible will gain a greater market share than those who divide customers. Successful strategies will portray Target and JC Penney as customer- people friendly. This means being “gay friendly” because gays are customer-people too.

  • Quinn Olson

    I support any organization that supports equality, fairness and justice. You don’t always get the opportunity to choose, but when I know a company is working for good, I’ll gladly spend money with them.

  • Regnar James

    It’s Monday and the first GeeElbeeTea question from the flamingly gay MPR.

    Target is one more place I will not shop at.

    Why don’t you ask some important questions?


  • Xopher

    Since Citizens United has given corporations the ability to use unlimited spending on elections and, in effect, purchase legislation/legislators favorable to their profit margin (at the expense of the individual citizens and the good of the country), it would seem that boycotting is one of the only tools the average American can use to have any political power. Because corporations are trying to make it harder for poor people to vote, and they’re about to stomp the trade unions.

  • Ron

    Reggie wrote:

    “Yes. When I am aware of businesses that openly and actively support civil rights, I make an effort to support them with my purchases. When businesses take an active position in opposition to civil rights, or try to promote a specific religious agenda, I make an effort to avoid them.”

    About sums it up for me as well.

  • david

    I definitely avoid companies i perceive as acting evil as much as possible. Any one who would boycott a store for NOT acting in a discriminatory way seems to be a shallow, ignorant, little creep who needs to get a life.

  • Ann

    I think any person would be reluctant to shop at a store that does not support his or her values.I support human rights for homosexuals and everyone, but I don’t support the fact they want to change the definition of marriage and have public institutions recognize the change of definition. There are other ways to make sure that they can make hospital visits and get other rights.My minister should have a right to choose whom he wants to marry. I should have a right to choose whether or not my grandchildren could be adopted by gays.

  • GregX

    Hey Regnar … is FOX News Flamingly Gray – essentially fearful old xenophiles who can’t fathom that others freedoms are as important as their own or that equality applies to all citizens – not just the ones whose “races/creeds” signed the founding documents.

  • Jim!!!

    @Ann “My minister should have a right to choose whom he wants to marry”. Of course, no one is going to force your minister to marry anyone.

    My answer is a resounding “Yes”. Thankfully the internet makes it hard for companies to hide their stance on rights and their political donations (we must continue to press for full disclosure).

  • Elizabeth

    Does a company’s policies on gay rights (and other sensitive issues) affect my patronage? Absolutely! I vote with my pocketbook. Sometimes I go out of my way to support a company that makes a difficult but laudable choice… And sometimes it works the orher way.

  • Regnar

    GregX, Hit a nerve?

    I did not say anything about other news sources.

    It is peculiar how MPR finds a GeeElTeaBee question of the day every week.

    How many people are gay in MN??? Less than 4% and it gets 20% (or more) of MPR questions.

    Also, I never did like Target anyway,,, way too Foo-Foo for me.


  • JOan fenner

    Yes it does. I wouldn’t shop anywhere that came out against it but places like jcpenny impress me and I will shop there. I see so many people talking about their minister being forced to do a ceremony she is against. Haven’t they heard of separation of church and state? We are talking about the legal aspects of marriage. Religious ceremonies are always optional.

  • suestuben

    I think it is important to pay attention to the various political stances taken by businesses. It takes effort but it is because we have not paid attention to our corporations that we find ourselves in this downward economic spiral. Had we voted with our dollars for the past 50 years we would not have CEO’s making more money than God, and they would never have dared to close all the factories and move American jobs overseas. They would have thought about public reaction before they began massive lay-offs or liquidating companies that brought food and health care to tens of thousands of people. But we have been a lazy nation of consumers who seem to believe that thinking is something to be left to others. We all bear a civic duty to be aware of what is happening in our communities and our country. Doing less has led to a country owned by 1% of the citizens while the rest of us fight over crumbs.