The mass market retailer signed an amicus brief in a case before a federal appeals court in Chicago, joining other big companies that have taken a stand for marriage equality. The case deals with legal issues in Wisconsin and Indiana, two states where lower courts have struck down gay-marriage bans.
"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," Jodee Kozlak, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Target, said in a statement posted on the company's official blog.
By finally making its stance public, Target joins other major U.S. corporations like Apple, Nike and Facebook in its open backing of same-sex marriage in U.S. courts.
Amicus, or "friend of the court," briefs, are filed by parties interested in a legal action, but not involved in the case. They're often filed in appeals of civil rights cases and other topics of public interest.
Target, which operates nearly 1,800 stores around the U.S. and boasts a worldwide workforce of around 360,000 people, has been criticized for remaining neutral on same-sex marriage in recent years.
In 2012, the company refused to take an official stance when a battle over marriage equality raged in its home state of Minnesota -- despite releasing wedding registry ads that featured two grooms. "We recognize that there is a broad range of strongly held views on the MN Marriage amendment," a Target spokeswoman said at the time, referring to a proposed amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
But this time, Target decided to make its position known.
"This brief is important, as the issues it addresses have significant impact on businesses," said Kozlak. "But it is more than that and we agreed that now is the right time to more directly share our views on this issue."
Target said it has "long offered comprehensive, competitive benefits" to its LGBT employees and their families. The company scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's 2014 Corporate Equality Index, which tracks corporate policies that affect LGBT workers.