Target Publicly Endorses Gay Marriage

Target Corp. is adding its name to a legal defense of gay marriage, joining other large companies that are taking a stand, just four years after the retailer came under criticism for supporting a strident opponent of same-sex unions.

Target said it has signed a court brief backing marriage equality in a pending court case and publicly declared its support of gay marriage, a move similar to those taken by Starbucks, Intel and Apple.

‘‘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,’’ Target Executive Vice President of Human Resources Jodee Kozlak wrote on the company’s blog.

Target has come under fire in the past from gay rights activists who threatened boycotts after the retailer — along with Best Buy and 3M — donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to an organization that supported Republican Tom Emmer, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, in the 2010 Minnesota governor’s race.

Target has worked to win back customers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and has long offered benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.