I was able to attend the 2012 General Mills Pride Reception with a great many GLBTA members. Can we call that historic? I attended the Historic 2012 General Mills Pride Reception? Let’s go with it. What happened at that event was important. The attendees filed into the auditorium, listened to the welcoming remarks, watched a performance by the Project 515 Players, and then heard the CEO of a Fortune 500 family institution oppose the anti-marriage amendment. I don’t know about the rest of the folks there, but it kind of happened in slow-motion. You know when you’re watching a show and you can tell that something’s going to happen as it’s happening? It was like that. Ken Powell was speaking and suddenly it was said: General Mills opposes this proposed amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
We applauded. It hit us. We applauded harder. It hit us harder. We stood–together–as a wave of professional people who were just validated as mattering and gave him a standing ovation. It lasted. So did the goosebumps. Phones came out–we tweeted, we posted to Facebook, we shared the news. We shared that moment.
What is interesting to me is what came out of that event and the morning after. I’m guessing that the press release from the event focused on the business nature of the announcement; that General Mills supports a diverse, inclusive culture for a better workforce. That it’s good for business.
I heard more than that, as the only member of the press who was present. I heard Mr. Powell say that it’s about business, yes, but that General Mills is in the business of nourishing lives; not just some of them, all of them.
That’s worth lauding more than a wise business decision. Yes, it’s important that this community be seen as a credible force in the market–GLBT community members are valuable workers and buyers. But, more than that, GLBT community members are valuable people. GLBT community members’ lives are worth a Fortune 500 company standing up against discrimination. This Fortune 500 company has fed us. It’s made many other decisions in its history to make lives better, from going multi-grain to removing high fructose corn syrup from its yogurt. For heaven’s sake, couldn’t “Americana” be just as easily be defined “Mom and Cheerios” as “Mom and apple pie?”
Cheerios believes in this community.
I know that we all joke about corporations and how they’re not people. Sometimes, it seems like they are. No, I can’t be “friends” with General Mills on Facebook. I won’t invite General Mills to my birthday party. General Mills and I might share some recipes, but we won’t meet up for Happy Hour because General Mills is not a person. But, General Mills is something we’re all in a relationship with…and it just got less complicated. For us. The brunt of the backlash that General Mills will face by proponents of the anti-marriage amendment is complicated and can’t be underestimated, which makes me want to be friends with it even more.
No, it’s not the first corporation to oppose the anti-marriage amendment and it won’t be the last. We can be grateful for each and every one that stands up and says out loud that this community deserves to not be discriminated against.
What I can’t wait for is when corporations and politicians stand up and say that the Defense of Marriage Act should be repealed and same-sex marriage should be legalized.
When it is voiced that this group should not be discriminated against by an amendment, that’s one thing. When it is voiced that this group should be allowed the same rights and freedoms as heterosexual citizens…that is historic.
Each and every time.