Marriage Amendment backers picket General Mills
GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Backers of the Marriage Amendment Tuesday launched four days of picketing against General Mills at the company's world headquarters on Betty Crocker Drive.
They were protesting the food giant's decision to oppose the controversial ballot issue, which would define marriage as only between one man and one woman.
Most of the three dozen protesters held signs reading "Defend Marriage," while others had fashioned homemade signs from cereal boxes.
"I think what they're saying is they feel betrayed that a company spending millions of dollars marketing cereal to parents of children would now come out and say that marriage needs to be redefined," Chuck Darrell of Minnesotans for Marriage told KARE.
The company phrased its position on the issue differently.
"General Mills has worked to create an inclusive culture for our employees for decades," communications director Tom Forsythe said in a statement to the news media.
"As a Minnesota-based company we believe it is important for Minnesota to be viewed as inclusive and welcoming as well."
Other major corporations and CEO's have expressed opposition to the amendment, but General Mills has drawn more attention because it's a household name entrenched in modern American history.
General Mills, which employs 35,000 people worldwide and had sales totalling nearly $15 billion in 2011, produces a host of food products, including Gold Medal flour, Betty Crocker cake mixes, and cereal brands such as Cheerios and Wheaties.
In a mass email alert to members, Minnesotans for Marriage encouraged consumers to "dump" their General Mills products by donating them to food banks. Many of those who drove to the protest Tuesday deposited cereal boxes into a van headed for a food shelf.
"I think General Mills should remain neutral on this issue," protester Kathy Swenson of New Hope told KARE.
"I don't think they should come out for or against gay marriage. I have no idea why they'd do that. I'm not going to buy their product anymore."
The National Organization for Marriage, a Washington D.C. based group supporting the amendment, sent a letter in early June to Minnesota's largest companies urging them to stay on the fence on the issue.
Tom Horner, a long-time public relations executive who ran for Governor in 2010 under the Independence Party banner, told KARE that many companies see living in a state without a marriage amendment as a recruiting edge.
"The last study showed the Twin Cities metropolitan area is about fifth or sixth in the country in attracting these kinds of workers," Horner explained.
"Not just gays and lesbians but all educated workers who want to live in a community that welcomes diversity, that embraces diversity."
A handful of counter-protesters joined the festivities to show support for General Mills.
"It would make me buy more General Mills products instead of fewer," Elliot told KARE.
"My husband and I have been married for 43 years and we definitely don't feel attacked by General Mills. We feel marriage has to be large enough to encompass everyone."
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