Attorney General Bonta Joins Multistate Coalition Supporting Target in Resisting Pressure to Curb Support for LGBTQ+ Community

Monday, June 19, 2023
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Multistate coalition appeals to Target to stand firm against anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, along with a multistate coalition of 15 other attorneys general, has urged national retailer Target to remain steadfast in its commitment to inclusivity and unequivocally reject anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and discrimination. The joint letter, issued during LGBTQ+ Pride Month, follows Target's recent decision to pull specific Pride-themed merchandise from its stores. This move coincides with an escalating number of ideologically-fueled attacks on LGBTQ+ Americans. Attorney General Bonta, along with the coalition, voiced his commitment to protecting LGBTQ+ individuals' civil rights. 

"No matter who you are or who you love, everyone deserves to feel safe and included in their communities. We stand firm with the LGBTQ+ community and urge Target not to give in to hateful ideology,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. "This Pride Month, and all year round, the California Department of Justice is committed to standing up for our LGBTQ+ community."  

The letter recognizes Target's intentions to maintain the safety of its employees and customers from anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and criminal acts. However, it strongly encourages Target to liaise with appropriate authorities to effectively address any anti-LGBTQ+ threats in their stores. The threats, intimidation, and acts of violence and destruction in Target stores follow an increase in hate crimes and attacks targeting LGBTQ+ Americans. Amid this climate, Pride merchandise, like that offered by Target, serves as a beacon of support for the LGBTQ+ community. Thus, the attorneys general express their concern that Target's decision to pull Pride merchandise may inadvertently suggest that disruptive individuals can influence corporate decisions, thereby affecting the comfort level – and ultimately safety – of LGBTQ+ customers.

In California and many other states, civil rights laws serve to support Target's efforts in protecting its staff and customers from hate-driven harassment, intimidation, or attacks. For instance, California's Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Attorney General Bonta joined the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Minnesota, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington in sending the letter to Target.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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