Marriage protest at General Mills

mn marriage pic.JPG (Minnesota for Marriage staffer Tim Gould is stacking General Mills products that will be donated to a local food shelf. MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

About fifty people protested outside of General Mills headquarters in Golden Valley today to speak out against the company’s opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota. Chuck Darrell, with the group Minnesota for Marriage, said he believes General Mills should stay out of the debate.

“The purpose of the rally is to send a message to General Mills and all Minnesota companies that marriage matters to a majority of Minnesotans,” Darrell said.

The group will be holding similar protests each of the next three days. Organizers asking supporters to deliver their General Mills products to a local food shelf.

John Ruiter from Edgerton, Minnesota drove two hours to attend the protest. He said he’s no longer buying General Mills products.

“Here’s a huge corporation that’s making a statement that’s actually favoring a minority of people,” Ruiter said. “The majority of the people that do business with General Mills, and they are families, with children. As far as I’m concerned, we won’t buy any of their products anymore.”

It’s unclear whether the protests will have any impact on General Mills’ bottom line. The Fortune 500 company had $15 billion in sales worldwide in 2011.

General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe declined to answer questions but released a written statement saying the company acknowledges the strongly held views on all sides of the amendment debate.

“We respect and defend the right of others to disagree,” Forsythe said in the statement. “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.”

The debate over the proposed marriage amendment is expected to be one of the most contentious in this year’s campaign.

MPR’s Heather Beckius contributed to this report…