FFRF to Target: Disregard the accusations of state AGs over pride collection

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging Target to disregard a letter from some state attorneys general falsely insisting its current pride collection violates laws protecting minors.

In a July 5 letter to Target, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and six other attorneys general made a claim that Target’s 2023 LGBTQ-plus pride collection may have violated laws protecting minors from the “sale or distribution … of obscene matter” in Indiana and other states. Their letter states that any and all LGBTQ-plus materials sold likely qualified as “obscene,” that Target sold “products with anti-Christian designs” and that by donating to the nonprofit advocacy organization GLSEN, Target was likely violating parental rights and child safety laws.

FFRF is encouraging Target President and CEO Brian C. Cornell to disregard the blatant abuse of political power and religiously motivated fear-mongering on the part of the letter’s signatories, and to stand on the right side of history by continuing to support LGBTQ-plus communities.

“As CEO, you are aware that Rokita’s characterization of the Pride collection was rife with misinformation, such as implying that a shirt depicting a drag queen was aimed toward children despite only being sold in adult sizes,” FFRF Equal Justice Fellow Kat Grant writes.

The law regarding whether LGBTQ-plus content is appropriate for minors is rapidly developing. There is a growing body of decisions, however, indicating that the recent government attempts at censoring LGBTQ-plus art and existence likely violate the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, the bar for legal obscenity is exceptionally high, requiring as a part of a three-pronged test that the speech “not have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.” To say that Target’s LGBTQ-plus merchandise meets this criteria is a stretch.

Rokita and his co-signing attorneys general reveal their true intentions through their statements that the materials being sold at Target are “anti-Christian.” While Satanist materials were never sold, contrary to the claims of the attorneys general, and LGBTQ-plus merchandise is not inherently “anti-Christian,” there is no law that states that privately owned corporations must show special reverence for Christianity. By making these statements in their official capacities as attorneys general, the signers of this letter inappropriately imply that those who might take issue with Christianity in their states will face legal consequences. This outrageous implication is a clear attempt on a part of these elected officials to use the power and prestige of their offices to coerce adherence to their own personal religious views into law, a direct violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

FFRF is urging Cornell to use his position and authority to to stand up for the rights of all Americans, and make it clear that Target will not be bullied into promoting an extremist Christian nationalist agenda. Target has the opportunity in its response to play a major role in stemming the tide of hatred against not only the LGBTQ-plus community but also every marginalized community in the United States.

“The seven attorneys general who shamefully co-signed this letter are clearly abusing their authority by attempting to impose their personal religion onto Target and its nationwide customers,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “No business has to conform to a Christian nationalist agenda to operate.”

The other attorneys general signing onto this bullying letter represent the states of Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and South Carolina.

Read FFRF’s letter here.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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