Fiery Gay Marriage Opponent Who Torched Cheerios, General Mills Lawn Dies

The gay marriage opponent whose recent fiery, videotaped protest outside General Mills gained national attention--and triggered a criminal investigation--died over the weekend, according to police.

Michael Leisner, 65, died Saturday while running an errand near his Andover, Minnesota home. His funeral service is scheduled for Friday morning at the Emmanuel Christian Center.

Dwight Denyes, the church’s senior pastor, told TSG that Leisner (pictured at right) apparently died of a heart attack Saturday while waiting in his car for two of his children to finish playing tennis.

Leisner’s death brings an abrupt end to a police investigation of his protest outside General Mills’s corporate headquarters in Golden Valley. In an e-mail today, Stacy Carlson, chief of the Golden Valley Police Department, reported that, “It’s being closed exceptionally, due to the suspect’s death over the weekend.”

In a video shot by one of his sons, Leisner, a father of four, is seen trying to set fire to a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. But Leisner, carrying a blowtorch, accidentally set fire to the lawn outside the entrance to the corporate park. When he failed to stomp out the flames, Leisner told his son, “Quick, get in the car.” They apparently fled while a section of the lawn was still on fire.

Leisner staged the Cheerios burning to protest General Mills’s announcement that it would oppose a November ballot initiative banning gay marriage in Minnesota. Seen below, video of Leisner’s torching (which occurred earlier this month) was uploaded to YouTube by one of his sons.

In a Facebook tribute, one of Leisner’s nephews--a missionary in Costa Rica--wrote in Spanish that Leisner was as “bold as a lion of God,” though some would remember him as “a flaming Elijah.”  Unfortunately, an English translation on the Facebook page mangled part of the tribute. “Please pray for the family of Mike to feel the spirit of God as dildo in this time of a loss,” the Bing translation notes.