Sep 27, 2013
11:07 AM
Connecticut Today

Shelton Mom Helps Lead Fight Against Barilla Pasta's Anti-Gay Remarks; Stop & Shop Petition

Shelton Mom Helps Lead Fight Against Barilla Pasta's Anti-Gay Remarks; Stop & Shop Petition

Linda Ferraro and her son Rich in a photo that accompanies the petition on Change.org.

The worldwide backlash against the Italian pasta maker Barilla following company president Guido Barilla’s remarks Wednesday on an Italian radio program that, according to a CNN story, “he wouldn't feature same-sex couples in his company's commercials because he prefers the ‘traditional’ family” includes a Connecticut effort to lobby Stop & Shop to stop carrying Barilla products.

According to Change.org, Linda Ferraro, an Italian-American mother from Shelton, worked with GLAAD to launch a Change.org petition asking Stop & Shop to discontinue carrying the “anti-gay pasta.”

In the petition, which Change.org says is the fastest growing LGBT-related petition in the U.S., getting more than 1,000 signatures in less than 24 hours, Ferraro says, “As an Italian-American mom, some of my favorite memories are of sitting around the dinner table with my husband and our three sons on Sunday after Church. Lots of tomato sauce, lots of laughs and lots of Barilla. In fact, there are several boxes of Barilla sitting in my cabinet right now. That is about to change.”

“My grandparents moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., from Italy and taught me that family is more important than anything,” the petition message continued. “I remembered that tradition when my son Rich was a teenager and cried at our dinner table as he told me he was gay. Even though my sons are adults now, no one messes with any of my boys. I shop at Stop & Shop, and now that I dumped Barilla, I think they should, too.”

Change.org says the largest petition directed at Barilla, with 10,000-plus signatures in less than 24 hours, was launched by Italian Nobel Prize-winning playwright and actor Dario Fo, who starred in Barilla's first TV commercials, where he saw first-hand how the brand was “synonymous with Italy, with home, and with family.”

His petition asks Guido Barilla to “return to the spirit of those commercials” and “become an ambassador of equality and a voice of the present” by  producing advertising that includes gay families.

Meanwhile, Barilla is attempting to apologize and blunt the criticism. CNN cited a statement in which Guido Barilla says, in part, “I have the utmost respect for anyone, without distinction of any kind. I have the utmost respect for gay people and for everyone's right to express themselves. I've also said – and I would like to reiterate – that I respect gay marriages. In its advertising, Barilla represents the family – because it's what welcomes everyone.”

And Barilla is offering a similar sentiment online.

A post on the U.S. Facebook page of Barilla says, “At Barilla, we consider it our mission to treat our consumers and partners as our neighbors – with love and respect – and to deliver the very best products possible. We take this responsibility seriously and consider it a core part of who we are as a family-owned company. While we can’t undo recent remarks, we can apologize. To all of our friends, family, employees, and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry.”

And a Tweet reinforces that message in shorter form:

 

Shelton Mom Helps Lead Fight Against Barilla Pasta's Anti-Gay Remarks; Stop & Shop Petition

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