Groups opposed to the legalization of gay marriage have criticized General Mills for speaking out against a proposed gay marriage ban in Minnesota.

Voters in November will decide whether to place the state's law which bans gay nuptials in the Minnesota Constitution.

The company spoke out against the referendum in a statement released on Thursday, a day after Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills, expressed similar views at a Gay Pride event.

“For decades, General Mills has worked to create an inclusive culture for our employees. We believe it is important for Minnesota to be viewed as inclusive and welcoming as well. We oppose the proposed constitutional amendment because we do not believe it is in the best interests of our employees or our state economy,” Tom Forsythe, vice president of corporate communications, said.

John Helmberger, chairman of Minnesota for Marriage, the group championing the ban, said he was disappointed “that General Mills has decided to play PC politics by pandering to a small but powerful interest group that is bent on redefining marriage, the core institution of society.”

“By taking this position, General Mills is saying to Minnesotans and people all around the globe that marriage doesn't matter to them,” said Helmberger. “Marriage is in the interest of children, because it is society's best way to help children experience the ideal environment where they are raised by their mother and father. It's ironic and regrettable that a corporation that makes billions marketing cereal to parents of children would take the position that marriage should be redefined.”

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, also criticized the company.

Brian Brown, president of NOM, said, “General Mills makes billions marketing cereal to parents of young children. It has now effectively declared a war on marriage with its own customers when it tells the country that it is opposed to preserving traditional marriage.”

The company's position, Brown predicted, “will go down as one of the dumbest corporate PR stunts of all time. It's ludicrous for a big corporation to intentionally inject themselves into a divisive social issue like gay marriage. It's particularly dumb for a corporation that makes billions selling cereal to the very people they just opposed.”

Located in Minneapolis, General Mills is one of the world's largest food corporations and a Fortune 500 company. Its stable of brands include favorites such as Betty Crocker, Haagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Nature Valley, Pillsbury and Yoplait.