General Mills CEO Ken Powell on Monday told shareholders that the company's opposition to a proposed gay marriage ban in Minnesota is a question of business, not politics.

Powell was peppered at the company's annual meeting with questions about the June announcement.

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

“What was the reason for the company to get involved when perhaps over 50 percent of your customer base will be offended? I just don't understand the rationale,” a second shareholder said.

The Star Tribune quoted Powell as answering: “We see it as a business issue that's not good for our state, our employees and our company. We did not do it as a public relations move.”

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay nuptials, organized a boycott against General Mills after its announcement.

(Related: General Mills' profits rise despite boycott over gay marriage.)