Target is holding a shareholder meeting here in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.  This is the first such meeting since the corporation donated $150,000 to support an anti-gay candidate in their election bid. 

There was immediate backlash.  It is a terrible contradiction to tell us you want our shopping dollars and support us, then try to elect someone who denies us our basic equal rights.  More on the donation specifics here.   These donations are tricky, but understand that this was from the actual company.  Executives within the company also made personal donations (including one from the CEO to Michelle Bachmann) which are troubling, but there's a little more gray when it comes to choices made by employees.  The $150,000 donation came from the profits WE generate by shopping at the store, not the salaries of the employees. 

Groups have united to plan a protest at the meeting on Wednesday, 12 PM at the new store site in East Liberty (you can't miss it).

Participating organizations include: Keystone Progress, Common Cause, Action United, Delta Foundation, We Are One Pennsylvania. 

So why does this matter?  Here's the perspective from Common Cause

As a giant retailer, Target is more susceptible to customer feedback, especially in an environment where sales have been slumping. The shareholder meeting is an opportunity to send a message that when companies try to buy our elected officials to do their bidding, we the people will be watching.  The protest is the beginning of a national effort to urge corporations to stop spending their profits to influence our elections. This spending distorts our public policy to only benefit a select few. We need to take a stand now before the 2012 elections are completely flooded with corporate money.

The LGBTQ community should take heed of this.  It is not a coincidence that they chose to support Tom Emmer, a State Rep running for Governor of Minnesota.  It was a calculated decision that probably had to do with business, but conveniently overlooked Emmer's strong stance against marriage equality, LGBTQ parentings, and his affiliation with an "incendiary" Christian group.  This man was much more Darryl Metcalfe than Tom Corbett if I can make so bold a continuum. 

If you work in the East End or can get away for a bit mid-day, please make an effort to head to East Liberty and send a message.  Let them know you are paying attention.  We can't stop corporations from making huge financial donations to the 2012 elections.  Do you want Target funding anti-equality candidates in Western Pennsylvania? 

My post on personal choices around boycotting Target and other companies ... another time.  It is constructive to know we can participate without the interminable inner struggle about where we spend our dollars.  So let's take advantage of this opportunity, queer Pittsburgh, and send a message.  We are paying attention.