General Mills Defends Marriage Equality to Shareholders as 'Business Issue'

In shareholder meetings Monday, General Mills defended its opposition to the Minnesota anti-marriage equality ballot measure, which seeks to amend the state's constitution to define marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

September 25 2012 2:49 PM ET

 

General Mills' position against a Minnesota amendment banning same-sex marriage garnered cheers and jeers from the company's shareholders at its annual meeting Monday, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

In June the packaged-foods giant announced its opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment, which would define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman. General Mills chief executive Ken Powell told the Star Tribune the company's opposition was about business policy, not politics.

"We see it as a business issue that's not good for our state, our employees, and our company," said Powell. "We did not do it as a public relations move."

Some shareholders expressed regret that the company entered the current cultural conversation about marriage equality at all.

"I really had a heavy heart and it saddened me that General Mills took a political stance on the amendment," one shareholder told the paper. "Whether for or against, I don't think politically you should have taken a stand on that."

But some shareholders supported the company's position, including one who said, "I would like to commend you for taking a stand on discrimination of any kind in the workplace."

The Star Tribune published a poll Sunday that showed 49% of Minnesotans surveyed supported the amendment (and the ban), and 47% opposed amending the state's constitution to outlaw marriage equality.

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