Food giant General Mills has come out against Minnesota’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that will go before voters in November.
In an e-mailed statement provided to On Top Magazine, Tom Forsythe, vice president of corporate communications, said the amendment would hurt Minnesota’s economy.
“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,” he said.
Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills, spoke out against the amendment at a reception on Wednesday night, a company spokesperson said.
Minnesota already has a statutory ban on marriage equality but religious conservatives want to enshrine the ban in the state’s constitution to try and prevent the courts from intervening.
The group campaigning for the ballot initiative to pass, Minnesota for Marriage, came out with the following statement in response to General Mills’ opposition:
“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. 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.”
A recent poll as part of an ongoing series conducted by Public Policy Polling, showed that 49% of Minnesota voters said they didn’t think the ban should be codified, with only 43% said they favored the move. This was a marked change since the last poll in January when 48% of respondents said they favored the move.
It is unclear what has prompted this shift, but there are several possibilities.
The controversy over North Carolina’s Amendment 1 campaign, that placed in the state’s constitution not just a ban on same-sex marriage but all marriage-like partnerships, and therein risked harming domestic violence protections and health insurance provisions, may have soured some Minnesotans against the move even though the state’s proposed ban is, in comparison, less egregious.
Also, since January, President Obama has publicly declared his support for marriage equality. This support is known to have had an impact on African American voters who have polled with a recognizable, if modest, increase in support for marriage equality. Indeed, even before this President Obama called the Minnesota amendment “divisive” and “discriminatory.
Of course, as was the case in North Carolina, polls prior to voting day are not often truly representative when it comes to the question of gay marriage rights, or broader LGBT rights efforts for that matter.
While General Mills’ advocacy has been welcomed by LGBT rights groups, the company has faced wider criticism in recent years for its use of palm oil, its proclivity for deforestation, and what some have called irresponsible advertising aimed at children.