After years of criticism for remaining neutral on the issue of same-sex marriage, Target, the nation’s second-largest discount retailer, publicly announced its support for the LGBT community in a court filing on Tuesday. The announcement came after Target officials met and agreed that now was the “right time” to explicitly share their views on the issue, wrote Jodee Kozlak, its executive vice president and chief human resources officer, in a statement posted on the company’s official blog.
Target signed an amicus brief in a case before the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Kozlak wrote that current laws in the states discussed in the case, Wisconsin and Indiana (where lower courts have struck same-sex marriage bans), have created “confusing and complicated benefits challenges,” have made it difficult to “attract and retain talent,” and have negatively impacted Target’s business relations. While the Minneapolis-based company said it has “long offered comprehensive, competitive benefits” to its LGBT employees, their partners, and their families, it found itself in a political crossfire in 2010 for financially backing an organization that supported Republican Tom Emmer, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, in his bid for governor. The retailer hopes to leave those blunder in the past, joining other major US companies, such as Apple, Nike, and Facebook, in the public, legal defense of marriage equality. “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. “And at Target we are proud to support the LGBT community.”