A leading retailer has removed t-shirts from sale that carried a slogan supporting gay marriage.

Urban Outfitters’ has previously been targeted by gay activists because of the political views of its chairman.

Speaking in 2003, Richard Hayne told The Philadelphia Weekly: “As a company, we don’t contribute to any cause except non-controversial things like a breast cancer walk. I don’t know anyone who is for breast cancer.”

However, Hayne has personally contributed money to various Republican politicians, among them Rick Santorum, a former US Senator who lost his seat in the 2006 elections.

In the past, Santorum has made strong anti-gay comments, including equating homosexuality with incest, bestiality and paedophilia.

When asked what his own views were about homosexuality, Hayne responded: “I’m not going to comment on it.

“I have my own opinion, but I am not going to share it. Our job as a business is not to promote a political agenda. That’s not what we do.

“There are all kinds of political views held by my employees. Some would be horrified to learn that we contributed to Santorum’s campaign, and others would be fine with it.

“We openly discuss and joke about our political differences.”

Glen Senk, the company’s openly gay chief executive of business, told the Pink Paper: “There is nothing homophobic about Dick Hayne.”

New York Magazine reports that “I Support Same Sex Marriage,” t-shirts were removed from sale online and in Urban Outfitters stores in California less than a week after they went on sale.

An Urban Outfitters buyer told the t-shirt’s designer, Tara Littman of Support Shirts, that the garments had got “too much bad press.”

In 2003, a t-shirt with the phrase “Everyone loves a Jewish girl” surrounded by dollar signs was repeatedly condemned but remained on sale in Urban Outfitters.

In 2006, sparkly handgun shaped Christmas decorations went on sale in Philadelphia stores – a city that had seen more than 300 gun-related murders that year.

Urban Outfitters was founded by Hayne and his wife in 1970. Hayne now owns more than 200 Urban Outfitters, Free People and Anthropologie stores.

The company recently opened a new store in Leeds, its ninth in the UK. It has quarterly profits of more than $53 million.

On November 4th 52% of voters in California approved Proposition 8 banning gay marriage.

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