In November, Minnesota voters will be asked to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between one man and one woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage in the state.
The company’s CEO Ken Powell stated the company’s position at a General Mills function attended by about 400 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) professionals in Minnesota last Wednesday, followed by a web letter from General Mills’ vice president of global diversity and inclusion Ken Charles.
Charles wrote: “While General Mills doesn’t normally take positions on ballot measures, this is a business issue that impacts our employees.
“…Obviously, there are strongly held views on both sides. We acknowledge those views, including those on religious grounds. We respect and defend the right of others to disagree. But we truly value diversity and inclusion – and that makes our choice clear.”
The group National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which is a key supporter of the Minnesota constitutional amendment, criticized General Mills for its position on the issue, calling it a “war on marriage” and “one of the dumbest corporate PR stunts of all time.”
"It's ludicrous for a big corporation to intentionally inject themselves into a divisive social issue like gay marriage,” NOM president Brian Brown said.
When asked why the company chose to take a position on the issue, General Mills’ vice president of corporate communications Tom Forsythe said in an emailed statement: "For decades, General Mills has worked to create an inclusive culture for our employees. We believe it is important for Minnesota to be viewed as inclusive and welcoming as well. We oppose the proposed constitutional amendment because we do not believe it is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy."
Earlier this year, Starbucks took a similar stand, declaring its support for legislation that would recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples in Washington State. In response, NOM set up a ‘Dump Starbucks’ campaign, which has attracted 44,690 signatures since January.
Meanwhile, a ‘Thank You Starbucks’ campaign has attracted more than 650,000 signatures.