UPDATE: 2nd Vote #AnywhereButTARGET Campaign Website Back Up After Being Shut Down for ‘Diversity’ and to Stop ‘Hate’

By Dustin Siggins Published on November 25, 2016

Editors’ Note: 27 hours after it was shut down, 2nd Vote’s #AnywhereButTarget campaign website went back online at noon Central on Friday.

A conservative corporate watchdog group’s effort to galvanize conservatives against Target’s restroom and changing-room policies was shut down on Thanksgiving Day by the server company hosting its website, because the campaign allegedly violated the company’s effort to “create an inclusive workplace” respectful of “diversity.”

In an e-mail, Leadpages Director of Operations Doug Storbeck ordered 2nd Vote to take down its #AnywhereButTARGET website. According to Storbeck, “at Leadpages, we strive to create an inclusive workplace that upholds the dignity of all people. We value, respect, and celebrate everyone’s individualities and honor their unique strengths from all different walks of life.”

2nd Vote’s campaign encouraged conservatives to shop #AnywhereButTARGET because of the company’s policy that allows males who identify as females to use the restroom and changing room of their choice. Conservatives have boycotted the retail giant, though Target executives said in August that a stock drop and an investment in single-sex restrooms was unrelated to the backlash.

Storbeck continued:

We believe that embracing diversity of thought and perspective encourages collaboration that leads to product innovation, diverse products and a successful business. Staying true to our core values is something we take very seriously and we feel this is reinforced in our Terms of Service. Specifically, and according to our Acceptable Use and Conduct policy (to which you have agreed), we prohibit any content which: “(g) is hateful or discriminatory based on race, color, sex, religion, nationality, ethnic or national origin, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or age or is otherwise objectionable, as reasonably determined by Ave. 81;”

For the reasons stated above, I am respectfully requesting that you to take down your #AnywhereButTarget landing page upon receipt of this notice, but no later than 8:00am CST on Thursday November 24, 2016.

Storbeck’s LinkedIn page says that he lives in the Minneapolis area, which is also where Target’s headquarters are located. The Stream was unable to determine whether this played a role in Leadpages’ decision. 

The Campaign

Earlier this week, 2nd Vote Communications Director Robert Kuykendall told The Stream that his organization believes “Target is carrying the water for the liberal LGBT agenda that wants to undermine religious liberty protections for business owners, people of faith, and religious institutions.” 

“We want conservatives to know that they have alternative choices for their Christmas shopping and to use the power of their shopping dollars to show Target that they don’t want to those dollars used to fund a radical political agenda,” Kuykendall added.

In an e-mail announcing the elimination of their #AnywhereButTARGET landing page, 2nd Vote Executive Director Lance Wray said, “Liberals who constantly tout tolerance and inclusion go out of their way to shut down ideas they disagree with. To say our campaign is about inequality, intolerance, hate, discrimination or devaluing anyone is flat wrong, it’s about common sense and safety. But, some of the truest hate and intolerance we’ve seen has come from the liberal responses to our campaign.”

Kuykendall told The Stream that he suspects Leadpages realized the campaign was having an effect on Target,

Leadpages must have sensed our campaign was gaining momentum, so they resorted to the typical liberal bully tactics of shutting down and censoring ideas they don’t agree with and calling them “hateful” or “discriminatory.” Apparently, Leadpages wanted to use the cover of Thanksgiving Day, thinking they could quietly make #AnywhereButTARGET disappear.

Kuykendall explained that the campaign “has reached over 3 million conservatives through several platforms. We’ve even added our Christmas Shopping Guide to the campaign, giving these conservatives better choices on where to spend their Christmas shopping dollars.”

Backlash Beginning

Less than 12 hours after Leadpages eliminated the #AnywhereButTARGET campaign page, LOGOS Identity Clothing’s Ryan O’Neil announced in an e-mail to Storbeck that he intended to boycott the company if it backed Target. O’Neil said that Storbeck and Leadpages’ executive team had “inserted your company into identity politics, and I can’t support a company like yours that doesn’t respect freedom of speech and expression.” O’Neil said that he is a “recent…user” who had been “considering upgrading my account.” 

Leadpages did not respond to The Stream’s effort to clarify the company’s policy. The #AnywhereButTARGET campaign is directed at the company’s gender identity policy, which is not listed in Storbeck’s listing of company non-discrimination policies. Likewise, neither Storbeck nor Leadpages’ public relations manager responded to Wray’s accusation that the company’s actions consist of hypocrisy on the issue of diversity.

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