Target Ad Promotes Gay Marriage: Supporting Equal Rights or Just Marketing?

Is supporting gay rights the new retail advertising trend?

Move over, JC Penney — you’re not the only major retailer to feature same-sex couples in your advertisements. Another major retail chain is showing its support for marriage equality, as Target released its new same-sex ad last week.

It’s possible that the splashy new ads are an attempt to shore up Target’s shaky history on same-sex marriage. In 2010, Target incited grassroots outrage with the news that they had made large donations to organizations and politicians that were pro-business, but anti-gay marriage. In 2011, Lady Gaga, a prominent gay rights activist, very publicly ended her partnership with Target over their donations history.

More recently, Target caused another controversy earlier this year when they announced that they would no longer carry Frank Ocean’s critically acclaimed new album, Channel Orange. Target stated that they would no longer carry the album because Ocean’s label, Def Jam, had decided to release it exclusively on iTunes for a week before it would be available to retailers. Still, many speculated that the retailer decided to drop the album because Ocean had very recently come out as gay.

Still, the ads are among a number of baby steps that Target has taken towards the correct side of social history. In June of 2012, the company  started a line of LGBT Pride T-shirts, as well as congratulatory same-sex wedding cards, even though same-sex marriage is still illegal in many states. And gay rights activists like David Badash have praised their efforts. If private citizens can change their minds, so can large corporations. Here’s hoping that Target’s new ads will result in many changed minds in the near future.