Target signs legal brief backing same-sex marriage

New York -- Target Corp. has added its name to a legal defense of gay marriage. The move comes four years after the company was criticized for supporting a strident opponent of same-sex unions.

Target signed a court brief backing marriage equality in a pending court case and publicly declared its support of gay marriage, joining the likes of Starbucks, Apple and Intel.

"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 VP of human resources Jodee Kozlak wrote on the company's Bullseye blog. “Without getting into the specifics of a court case, this brief evaluates the issues created by states that both prohibit same-sex marriage and also refuse to recognize marriages that were conducted legally in other states.”

In her blog post, Kozlak wrote that Target has long offered benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.

“But current laws — in places like Wisconsin and Indiana that are addressed in this brief – make it difficult to attract and retain talent,” she wrote. “These disparate laws also create confusing and complicated benefits challenges across multiple states. We believe that everyone – all of our team members and our guests — deserve to be treated equally.

A spokeswoman for the Minnesota Family Council, which was in front of the charge against same-sex marriage in the state, 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 said in a Star Tribune report. “People in Minnesota are still deeply divided on this issue.”

Nearly all of Minnesota's biggest corporations declined to take a position on the 2012 state referendum to ban gay marriage. The referendum failed and the state Legislature passed a bill recognizing same-sex marriage in 2013.

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.


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