The lead group pushing an amendment to ban same-sex marriage staged a boycott outside the General Mills headquarters Tuesday, urging other Minnesota companies to stay out of the amendment fight.
“We have heard from thousands of Minnesotans that are pretty upset that General Mills has come out against a marriage between a man and a woman,” said Chuck Darrell, spokesman for Minnesota for Marriage. “The purpose of the rally is to show General Mills and all Minnesota companies that marriage matters to the majority of Minnesotans. When they take a position against marriage, they take a position against the deeply-held beliefs of the majority of their shareholders and the majority of their customers.”
Minnesota for Marriage announced the “Dump General Mills” events after leaders of General Mills announced earlier this month that the Fortune 500 company opposed the amendment.
About 75 supporters stood outside the company’s Golden Valley headquarters over the lunch-hour, urging supporters to drop off unopened boxes of General Mills’ cereal and other products, which will be donated to charity. A smattering of motorists stopped to drop off boxes of cereal and other products during the two-hour event.
General Mills staff greeted attendees by offering them a cup of coffee or cold water with lemon. They offered to bring cookies, too, but boycott organizers said they would only accept them if they could consider it a donation to their cause.
“It’s the neighborly thing to do,” General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe told those who had gathered. “I was raised as a Minnesotan, and when people drop by your house, you put on coffee, so that’s what we did.”
Forsythe would not address the nature of the boycott, which will go each day from noon to 2 p.m. through Friday.
“We acknowledge the strongly held views on all sides of this question,” he said in a statement. “We respect and defend the right of others to disagree. But General Mills has worked to create an inclusive culture for our employees for decades. As a Minnesota-based company, we believe it is important for Minnesota to be viewed as inclusive and welcoming as well.”
Minnesotans United for All Families, the lead group opposing the amendment, did not have an organized event to counter the boycott.
The campaign sent a letter to supporters thanking General Mill for the support. So far, Minnesotans United has collected 7,000 signatures from supporters thanking General Mills, the second major Minnesota company to oppose the amendment.
After the rally, the National Organization for Marriage announced it will initiate a larger boycott of General Mills, including a new website, www.DumpGeneralMills.com.
“In declaring a war on marriage, General Mills is declaring war on their own customers,” Brian Brown, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Now, rather than seeing the flowing ‘G’ trademark as a symbol of General Mills, consumers across the world will equate that symbol with gay marriage.”