Target publicly endorses same-sex 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," Target Executive Vice President of Human Resources Jodee Kozlak wrote on the company's blog. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Apple issued a statement in support of marriage equality after the Supreme Court repealed a major section of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. (Getty Images)
Starbucks flew the Pride Flag atop its headquarters in Seattle, Wash., on June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
"As a San Francisco based-brand, we celebrate the Supreme Court's ruling moving California forward on the road to marriage equality," Banana Republic said in June 2013. (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
"Google is fully supportive of equal rights for all." (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
"NIKE Inc., has long supported the recognition of same-sex civil marriage, domestic partnerships and workplace non-discrimination." (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)
The ice cream juggernaut has been in support of marriage equality for over 35 years, according to the company's website. (Photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images)
"Approximately 70% of people on Facebook in the U.S. are connected to a friend who has expressly identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual on their timeline. #PrideConnectsUs" (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
"Our support for marriage equality is a natural extension of our support for eBay's LGBT employees and a reflection of our company's commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality in the workplace." (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
"Citi promotes a work environment where diversity is embraced and where our differences are valued and respected." (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
"We were proud to be one of the firms who signed the amicus brief in support of the repeal of DOMA." (Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Target Corp. is adding its name to a legal defense of gay marriage, joining other large companies that are taking a stand, just four years after the retailer came under criticism for supporting a strident opponent of same-sex unions.
Target said it has signed a court brief backing marriage equality in a pending court case and publicly declared its support of gay marriage, a move similar to those taken by Starbucks, Intel and Apple.
"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 of Human Resources Jodee Kozlak wrote on the company's blog.
Target has come under fire in the past from gay rights activists who threatened boycotts after the retailer - along with Best Buy and 3M - 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.
Target has worked to win back customers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and has long offered benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.
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, predicted that the move will backfire.
"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."
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.
Companies that have come out in favor of marriage equality