June 14, 2012
By Jacob Combs
General Mills, the Fortune 500 company behind such well-known brands as Yoplait, Pillsbury, Cheerios and Betty Crocker, has announced its opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment in Minnesota that would ban marriage equality in the state. General Mills’s headquarters is located in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb. In response, Minnesotans United for All Families, the pro-marriage equality group seeking to defeat a marriage ban on the November ballot in the state, has launched a petition on its website for supporters to thank the company.
This isn’t General Mills’s first stand on LGBT issues: yesterday, Ken Charles, the company’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, testified before the Senate HELP Committee regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would make employment discrimination based on gender and sexuality-based orientation illegal.
We’re seeing more and more corporations step forward and support marriage equality, from Microsoft and Nike in Washington to Apple and Google in California. On the surface, this is great news for the movement because people trust brands like Starbucks and Apple, and they are likely to take a good look at the social policies of those companies and consider why they are taking such a stand. But even more importantly, it ties into a larger argument that can and should be made more clearly for marriage equality.
Equal marriage rights for all couples is not just the right and fair thing to do under law because it protects individuals and their relationships. They’re also important to our society as a whole, and they promote the economic and social well-being of the broader community of both LGBT and straight Americans. Companies that work in states with equal marriage rights can attract the best talent without being forced to discriminate against their employees or pay out of pocket to treat those employees equally if the state does not. This is a bigger argument about how marriage equality is good for the private sector and helps all Americans, not just LGBT Americans, and it’s something that we should repeat over and over until it gains more traction.