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The Minnesota food giant that brought to the nation’s parents, and especially their children, the Honey Nut Bee, Lucky the Leprechaun and the Silly Trix Rabbit now publicly is supporting homosexual marriage, leaving critics surprised at General Mills’ abandonment of traditional values families.
General Mills CEO Ken Powell announced this week at a Minneapolis homosexual pride event that his company opposes the marriage amendment on the Minnesota ballot in November.
Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Minnesota, but supporters of the traditional marriage initiative say that the constitutional amendment would keep marriage safe from activist courts and even legislators who may attempt to usurp state law.
Already there is a case in Hennepin County effectively putting the Minnesota Defense of Marriage Act on trial, and Minnesota pro-traditional marriage groups say that the November ballot measure is critical.
Supporters of traditional marriage say that General Mills couldn’t be more wrong in calling its support a business decision, but that is precisely how General Mills is voicing its opposition to the idea that state residents could define marriage for themselves.
“General Mills doesn’t normally take positions on ballot measures; this is a business issue that impacts our employees,” said Ken Charles, General Mills vice president of diversity.
“Minnesota voters will be asked to decide on a proposed constitutional amendment in November,” said Charles. “If passed, this amendment would define marriage in our home state’s constitution as being between one man and one woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota.”
He said the General Mills position against the traditional definition of marriage would help keep the company competitive. The pro-marriage initiative, he said, would make it harder for the Minnesota food producer to retain talented workers.
“If defeated, Minnesota voters would send a strong message about our state’s view of the importance of inclusiveness and diversity,” he said.
Charles spoke of the CEO’s comments at the “gay” pride event.
“He voiced our company’s opposition to the proposed marriage amendment, an initiative that makes our state less inclusive and reduces our company’s ability to attract and retain talent,” Charles said.
“I am proud to see our company join the ranks of local and national employers speaking out for inclusion,” he continued. “We do not believe the proposed constitutional amendment is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy – and as a Minnesota-based company we oppose it.”
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, or NOM,said the General Mills position “will go down as one of the dumbest corporate PR stunts of all time.”
“Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is profoundly in the common good, and it is especially important for children,” Brown said. “General Mills makes billions marketing cereal to parents of young children. It has now effectively declared a war on marriage with its own customers when it tells the country that it is opposed to preserving traditional marriage, which is what the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment does.”
NOM points out U.S. Census Bureau data indicating that there are just over 100,000 same-sex households in America with children under the age of 18. The group contrasts that with the over 35 million traditional American households with children under 18.
“It’s ludicrous for a big corporation to intentionally inject themselves into a divisive social issue like gay marriage,” said Brown. “It’s particularly dumb for a corporation that makes billions selling cereal to the very people they just opposed.”
NOM recently sent a letter to Minnesota’s 50 biggest corporations urging “neutrality” regarding the November ballot measure.
“Gay” activist groups claim that there is no such thing as neutrality, however, with one group recently blogging, “A policy of neutrality is a policy of invisibility, disregard, and shame.”
The blogger calls on companies like General Mills to embrace the LGBT community and “do what’s right for their profits.”
But Minnesotans for Marriage, a broad coalition of supporters of the Minnesota marriage amendment, sharply criticized General Mill’s outspoken opposition to traditional marriage.
In a statement, marriage coalition chairman John Helmberger said it’s “very disappointing that General Mills has decided to play PC politics by pandering to a small but powerful interest group that is bent on redefining marriage, the core institution of society.”
“[The General Mills position] thrust the company into a war against marriage that goes against the beliefs of an overwhelming majority of their customers and the best interest of their shareholders,” he continued.
“Marriage is more than a commitment between two people who love each other. It was created by God for the care and well-being of the next generation. The amendment is about preserving marriage and making sure that voters always remain in control over the definition of marriage in our state, and not activist judges or politicians.”
Helmberger said that by taking its position, General Mills is saying to Minnesotans and people all around the globe that marriage doesn’t matter to them.
“Marriage is in the interest of children, because it is society’s best way to help children experience the ideal environment where they are raised by their mother and father,” he said. “It’s ironic and regrettable that a corporation that makes billions marketing cereal to parents of children would take the position that marriage should be redefined.”
Minnesotans for Marriage points to studies indicating a strong correlation between a society’s support for traditional marriage and the health of its economy.
One report titled “The Sustainable Demographic Dividend,” written by the Social Trends Institute, says its research “suggests that large sectors of the modern economy are more likely to flourish when men and women marry and have children.”
“So companies in these sectors – from Bayer to Nestlé to Procter & Gamble to Wal-Mart – could and should do more to use their advertising and philanthropic dollars to strengthen families the world over and so – indirectly – their future bottom line.”
The report said the “bottom-line message of ‘The Sustainable Demographic Dividend’ is that business, government, civil society, and ordinary citizens would do well to strengthen the family – in part because the wealth of nations, and the performance of large sectors of the modern economy, is tied to the fortunes of the family.”
Supporters of traditional marriage have been victorious in each of the nearly three dozen states where a definition of marriage was put on the ballot.
Minnesotans for Marriage points to the Social Trends Institute study as a reminder to corporate giants of where their profits lie.
“In recent decades, numerous corporations have supported initiatives to help sustain the physical environment. Now it’s time for companies to be similarly attentive to the sustainability of the family, an institution that socializes and supplies not only future workers but current and future customers,” the group said.
“Corporate profits in industries whose fortunes are linked to the health of the family – from grocery chains to insurance companies – are likely to perform particularly well when families are strong.
“Companies in these industries should take the lead in doing all they can to increase the odds that, among adults, love is followed by marriage and the baby carriage.”