15 State Attorneys General Write Letter Telling Target to 'Be Mindful of Its Obligations' to LGBTQ+ Community

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison co-led a group of 15 AGs in penning an open letter to retailer Target “urging the company to be “mindful of its obligations” to the LGBTQIA+ community. The letter also urged Target “to double down on inclusivity, reject hate in all its forms, and stand firm in the face of intimidation and discrimination.”


Other Attorney General signatories on the letter included Rob Bonta from California, Aaron Ford of Nevada, Kristen Mayes of Arizona, and Brian Schwalb of the District of Columbia, among others. The letter stated that Target could use various state laws in “efforts to protect its staff and customers in the face of hate-based intimidation, harassment, threats, or attacks.”

The letter said:

Indeed, all our states have laws protecting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in places of public accommodation like Target stores. While these laws certainly do not create a legal obligation for retailers to offer any particular merchandise or create any particular displays, they do demand that customers be treated equally.

Target found itself the recipient of a boycott campaign when Pride month merchandise and displays were rolled out in late May, and a social media post went viral showing the products. The Pride line included newborn onesies, swimwear boasting “thoughtfully fits on multiple body types and gender expressions,” including swimsuits designed with a “light binding effect,” with bottoms labeled as “tuck friendly construction.” A spokesperson for Target claimed that the “extra crotch coverage” swimwear is only available in adult sizing.

Target Holds Emergency Meeting to Avoid ‘Bud Light Situation’ Over Kids’ LGBT Pride Merch


Earlier that week, it was reported that a Target designer that collaborated on the line was an avid Satan supporter who proclaimed, “Satan loves you.” Soon Target was trying to prevent the Bud Light effect, where the company lost tens of billions in stock value after using a transgender social media influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, in a marketing blunder. Some stores located in the Southern U.S. were instructed to move Pride displays, including mannequins and large signage, from a prominent view at the front of the stores to the back and replace them with other swimwear merchandising.

The group of state attorneys general was very concerned that Target, a private company, made a marketing choice in the highly socially conservative southern region of the nation, writing:

We fear your choice to pull Pride merchandise demonstrates that intentional violence and intimidation can set back the march for social progress and LGBTQIA+ equality, which as we have noted is already under intense attack nationwide.

Among purported widespread threats to the community noted in the letter were “baseless and pernicious accusations that LGBTQIA+ individuals seek to abuse or convert children.”

And, according to the executive branch of state governments, it’s Target’s job to help people not worry about… drag queens doing provocative performances for children.. or something. They wrote:


Against this backdrop, Pride merchandise like Target’s helps LGBTQIA+ people see that they enjoy considerable support and that loud and intimidating fringe voices and bullies do not represent the views of society at large. We understand Target recently pulled some Pride merchandise from its shelves out of concern for worker and customer safety. While we understand the basis for this action, we are also concerned it sends a message that those who engage in hateful and disruptive conduct can cause even large corporations to succumb to their bullying, and that they have the power to determine when LGBTQIA+ consumers will feel comfortable in Target stores—or anywhere in society.

Nowhere in the letter did it acknowledge that Target’s merchandising decisions might be based on free market principles or shareholder interests that they are actually “obligated” to or a desire to have customers continue shopping at their stores instead of boycotting them. Instead, the AGs fully ignore any boycotting or market cap losses, imagining that the force of government prosecution will solve the problems Target faces with its customers.

Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender woman, is now a brand ambassador for Bud Light, 4/1/23. (Credit: Twitter)

Bud Light learned differently. This week Anheuser-Busch InBev accepted a Creative Marketer of the Year award in Cannes, France. Hilariously, it was announced that they won the award in mid-March, about two weeks before Mulvaney’s April 1 Instagram post and subsequent backlash.


In his speech, Marcel Marcondes, AB InBev’s Chief Marketing Officer, said:

When things get divisive and controversial so easily, I think it’s an important wake-up call to all of us marketers to be very humble.

Wait, isn’t humility the opposite of pride? Maybe the beer marketers can share their notes with Target. Criminally prosecuting your customers and laying hyperbolic blame, as the AGs’ letter suggests, is not as helpful as aiming “to really understand our customers,” as Marcondes said in Cannes.


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