Target megastore has joined other large corporations like Apple and Starbucks in defending gay marriage, a mere four years after the retailer came under criticism for supporting an opponent of homosexual unions.
According to Target Executives Vice President of Human Resources Jodee Kozlak, the company has signed a court brief backing marriage equality in a pending court case and publicly declared its support of gay marriage.
"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," Kozlak wrote on the company's blog.
Several years ago, gay rights activists threatened boycotts after Target donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to an organization that supported Republican Tom Emmer, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, in the 2010 Minnesota governor's race.
Since then, Target has worked tirelessly to win back customers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and decided to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.
According to the Star Tribune, nearly all of Minnesota's biggest corporations declined to take a position on the 2012 state referendum to ban gay marriage except for General Mills, which opposed the ban. The referendum failed and the state Legislature passed a bill recognizing same-sex marriage in 2013.
Phil Duran, legal director of OutFront Minnesota, which worked to defeat the state's referendum to ban gay marriage, called Target "a powerful voice."
A spokeswoman for the Minnesota Family Council, which led the charge against gay marriage, called the move "risky."
"This is a very risky business decision and ultimately the wrong one because it is families that shop at Target," Autumn Leva told the Star Tribune.
"People in Minnesota are still deeply divided on this issue."
Nancy Ralburg, a homeschooling mother of three, says she and her family will no longer shop at the store.
"I don't want my money going to an organization that supports policies that undermine the traditional meaning of marriage," she said.
Fox News reports that the case in which Target has filed a brief combines legal actions in Wisconsin and Indiana. Federal judges overturned gay marriage bans in both states and state officials appealed. The case is scheduled for an Aug. 26 hearing in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.