Beyond Chick-Fil-A: These Other Corporations Donate To Anti-Gay Causes Too

Large corporations have always donated portions of their profits to causes outside of their immediate business goals. Companies often donate to feel-good charities for a variety of reasons – for tax breaks, to boost their public image, maybe even to be generous for no particular reason.

McDonald’s Ronald McDonald House Charities donates millions to families with disabled children. Avon’s Foundation for Women has given $860 million to breast cancer research and domestic abuse programs. The list goes on. And these are relatively safe, non-controversial causes that can’t be criticized.

Matters get more complicated when corporations donate to organizations with political interests. This issue was brought closer to home with the recent uproar against Chick-fil-A’s donations to anti-gay organizations, including Focus On The Family and Exodus International.  Turns out, there’s a multitude of corporations that have also funded anti-gay campaigns and other controversial causes. 

Best Buy donated $100,000 to Tom Emmer, a socially conservative Minnesota gubernatorial candidate with very contentious opinions. In addition to his anti-gay stance, Emmer supported castration of sex offenders, banning abortion entirely, and the pharmacists’ rights to deny contraception.

Target donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a PAC that supported Emmer’s campaign. Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel later issued a formal apology to its employees after complaints about anti-LGBT activities. Steinhafel claimed to aid MN Forward in support of economic growth and promised to include more “dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the working place, including GLBT issues.”

Exxon Mobil is the largest company that does not offer benefits to domestic partnerships. The Human Rights Campaign gave it a negative score of -25 on the Corporate Equality Index, which measures treatment of LGBT employees on a scale of 0 to 100. It have not changed its stance since and still do not grant benefits to partnerships.

Then you’ve got the powerful individuals representing large corporations who privately donate to anti-gay causes. Their personal donations do not reflect the attitudes of the company, but their actions have still garnered controversy and appeals to boycott their products.

Urban Outfitters/Free People/Anthropologie co-founder and CEO Richard Hayne is a known conservative who has donated over $13,000 to Rick Santorum, who openly opposes gay rights. The donation was a private contribution and in no way affiliated with the company. Hayne’s personal beliefs on gay rights are also unclear. However, Urban Outfitters faced some criticism, and there was even a small Change.org petition threatening to boycott the store. Urban Outfitters was also criticized when it pulled a gay rights t-shirt from its stores, although the company said it was only because the shirt wasn’t selling well. Even Miley Cyrus got involved in this one.

[UPDATE: 5/3/12] Hotel magnate Doug Manchester, who owns owned* San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt and Grand del Mar resort, has also privately donated thousands to Protect Marriage. The group supported California’s Prop 8, which proposed a ban on same-sex marriages. Groups also advocated a boycott on Manchester’s hotels.

*The hotel was sold on March 9, 2011 to Host Hotels and Resorts. A representative said that Host is “very GLBT friendly and supports the GLBT Community.”

Chick-Fil-A and the rest of these corporations are not unique in their donations to anti-gay groups and candidates. Plenty of other corporations donate to other political groups, parties, and individuals with controversial stances. Corporate donations serve as just one instrumental means of exercising some influence over the political landscape. Expect more to come.

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13 Comments

  • Rita Chapot
    April 27, 2012

    From NY Mag:

    Urban Outfitters: Richard Hayne, the Chairman of the hipsterish Urban Outfitters, is a notably right-wing Republican who generously supports GOP candidates and causes that vote for legislation against gay marriage. His company also operates stores under Free People and Anthropologie name.
    NOTE: Glen Senk, the CEO of the parent company, Urban Outfitters, Inc., is an openly gay man who has been in a committed relationship for over 30 years. However, Richard Hayne is still the founder and current chairman and does indeed have a record for supporting right-wing Republicans who are against abortion and gay rights.

  • Steve West
    July 19, 2012

    I will not claim to be a writer, but as I read your article it made me wonder about what you wrote. I do not know what LGBT stands for you, do not say. It would have helped me if you had written what it stood for before using the initials for this group.

  • Jamie McGonnigal
    July 22, 2012

    Not to say that we should also refrain from patronizing these businesses, but $100,000 to a candidate who doesn’t believe in marriage equality is a far cry from $5 million to organizations that are fighting to have gay people executed in Uganda. Chick-fil-A’s departure into harmful, extremist anti-gay culture isn’t even in the same universe as Target, which yes – made harmful donation, but has also given 10 times that to Pride celebrations and just recently $200K to the Family Equality Council through the sale of Pride t-shirts.

  • Richard Harney
    July 22, 2012

    These contributions are different because the companies believe the candidate running is in their best interest. It really has nothing to do with gay rights. Gay rights is not on the top of a company’s priority list when it comes to which candidate to support, even if the company is gay friendly.

    As for Exxon, they have every right not to support partners of domestic partnerships or civil unions. In fact, this just gives gay rights supporters more ammunition as to why the need for gay marriage is so important. So that their spouses can get on their insurance and get the equal benefits as their straight coworkers.

  • daniel malisky
    July 23, 2012

    to hell with all of them…I’m .buying chinese.

  • A Johnson
    July 23, 2012

    I concur about Target. They gave a one-time donation to a MN gubernatorial candidate that didn’t even win. But they are also a huge supporter of the Pride Festival here in MN, sold Pride t-shirts via their website as well as all of the local charities they support with a percentage of every dollar you spend there. Furthermore, they apologized for supporting Emmer. Best Buy got called out on it and never responded. Not one word. But all of these, even EXXON Mobil are a far cry from Chick Fil-a.

  • Uisce O'Flannagan
    July 23, 2012

    To be fair Target is in the process of changing its way.

  • Jim Smith
    July 23, 2012

    @Steve West – LGBT = Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgendered.

  • Annah Hinman
    July 29, 2012

    This article is severely lacking and can give the appearance of being misleading.

    The title suggests a “present tense” action of corporations donating money to anti LGBT. “These Other Corporations Donate To Anti-Gay Causes Too.” Very misleading.

    Target had not donated that money since 2010. They apologized. Matter of fact, they sell gay pride t shirts and currently advertise two men getting married for their wedding registry. http://www.styleite.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/target-wedding-gay.jpeg

    Journalism is about writing about the hear and now….not lingering in the past.

  • Jillian Moore
    August 4, 2012

    It seems as if A LOT of people here shop at Target & want to continue to do so without feeling guilty.

    There are a number of reasons to not shop at Target other than bigotry.

  • Jamie Finlayson
    December 4, 2012

    Let me start off by stating I have many gay friends….I am also a Christian.( STOP!! Don’t shoot!!) it really is a shame, that in this great country, where we “claim” to be so tolerant, so supportive of views & individualism, such the ‘ol ” melting pot”, but yet if you don’t believe in EVERYTHING that EVERYBODY else does, your classified as a bigot, or worse, racist….I believe in marriage as it is written in the Bible, but that’s not to say I am against a civil union for gay or lesbian or blue avatar couples…but do not try and tell me it’s the same. We will always be on opposite sides of the fence, but that doesn’t prevent me from being a good neighbor! Let people give their money to whomever they choose, and stop the hypocrisy!! There will always be one group hating another…some abhor fat people…rich people, poor people, Christians, Jews, gays, blacks, rednecks…so get off your self-righteous pony.Guess what? You are in America…you don’t HAVE to eat at chick-fil-a, or shop at target, or really do anything anymore.Don’t give me your “tolerance” speech until your ready to quit screaming about fairness-I’m sick of my rights as an American & Christian, slowly taken from me because I happen to stand by my moral code and beliefs.

  • Jamie Finlayson
    December 4, 2012

    Let me start off by stating I have many gay friends….I am also a Christian.( STOP!! Don’t shoot!!) it really is a shame, that in this great country, where we “claim” to be so tolerant, so supportive of views & individualism, such the ‘ol ” melting pot”, but yet if you don’t believe in EVERYTHING that EVERYBODY else does, your classified as a bigot, or racist….I believe in marriage as it is written in the Bible, but that’s not to say I am against a civil union for gay or lesbian or blue avatar couples…but do not try and tell me it’s the same. We will always be on opposite sides of the fence, but that doesn’t prevent me from being a good neighbor! Let people give their money to whomever they choose, and stop the hypocrisy!! There will always be one group hating another…some abhor fat people…rich people, poor people, Christians, Jews, gays, blacks, rednecks…so get off your self-righteous pony.

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    January 16, 2013

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    This organization grants wishes to children with life-threatening or catastrophic illness between the ages of 3 and 17, who reside or receive treatment.
    Provides free FREE air transportation nationwide for people with medical and financial need, and for other humanitarian reasons (such as wish-granting trips)
    So we try and make there very last wish come true no matter what the cost with in are available limits .Thats why we need all the help

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