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Target signs amicus brief on marriage equality

Target announced its support of same-sex marriage, three years after facing criticism for backing candidates against marriage equality.
Carts are seen outside of a Target store in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty)
Carts are seen outside of a Target store in Miami, Florida.

Target has come out publicly in support of marriage equality, joining other major corporations like Apple, Nordstrom, Starbucks and Microsoft that have vocalized their support for LGBT community.

The major retail chain, along with other companies, filed an amicus brief to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals supporting same-sex marriage in Wisconsin and Indiana, two states where gay marriage bans still exist.

"It is our belief that everyone should be treated equally under the law, and that includes rights we believe individuals should have related to marriage," Target Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Jodee Kozlak wrote on the company's official website Tuesday. 

"We believe that everyone — all of our team members and our guests — deserve to be treated equally. And at Target we are proud to support the LGBT community," Koziak wrote.

The amicus brief has been submitted for a case before the federal appeals court in Chicago, and specifically points to past cases in which Wisconsin and Indiana appealed the lower courts' decision to overturn gay marriage prohibitions. 

"Current laws — in places like Wisconsin and Indiana that are addressed in this brief – make it difficult to attract and retain talent," said Koziak, citing economic reasons as grounds for the organization's announcement. "These disparate laws also create confusing and complicated benefits challenges across multiple states."

Koziak added, "This brief is important, as the issues it addresses have significant impact on businesses."

The announcement also points out that Target already offers comprehensive benefits to LGBT employees and their families. "At Target, we have long offered comprehensive, competitive benefits to our LGBT team members and their families, often above what is legally required," the blog post read. "We continue to do so today because we believe doing so is right for our team and for our business."

In May of 2011, Lady Gaga, an outspoken gay rights advocate, scrapped a partnership with Target to release an exclusive edition of her “Born This Way” album after learning that the company backed political candidates who oppose gay rights. Target's Political Action Committee had donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a PAC that supported Minnesota State Rep. Tom Emmer's campaign for governor. Earlier that December, it was revealed that the company's PAC had also donated over $30,000 to two other politicians who vehemently opposed marriage equality, Minnesota Congressmen Erik Paulsen and John Kline.

Target also did not publicly get involved in the marriage equality debate in Minnesota, the company's home state. CEO Gregg Steinhafel promised shareholders at an annual stockholder's meeting in 2011 that the company would stay out of the fight over the ballot initiative that would have amended the state's constitution to ban marriage equality. The legislature ultimately passed a same-sex marriage bill, which was signed into law last year.