By Anna Jaffray
J.C. Penny announced that it will retain Ellen DeGeneres as the company spokeswoman, despite a boycott by an anti-gay organization called One Million Moms, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In response to the boycott against Ellen and J.C. Penny by One Million Moms, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and 25,000 people wrote to J.C Penny supporting DeGeneres last Friday. Degeneres will remain the company’s spokeswoman as an out and proud lesbian.
One Million Moms, who declined to comment, continues to petition to J.C. Penny to remove Degeneres.
Although One Million Moms threatens a boycott, it seems fans of Ellen, the spokeswoman’s popular talk show, outnumber the Moms with 3.38 million viewers. According to their website, the Moms deem Degeneres as “..not a true representation of the type of families who shop at the retailer” and call for J.C. Penny to remain “neutral” in the culture war.
Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Programs and Communications of GLAAD wrote, “Americans spoke out in overwhelming support of LGBT people and J.C. Penny’s decision not to fire Ellen simply for who she happens to love, but while Ellen has the nation on her side, in 29 states today, Americans can still be legally fired just for being gay. Our elected officials should use this incident as yet another example of the support for legal protections for all hard working employees.”
But GLAAD, Ellen, and J.C. Penny’s supporters have even more to celebrate in the massive media coverage of the action. Via Facebook and Twitter, thousands were exposed to the story, furthering coverage for LGBT employment rights. The organization circulated a map of the 29 states in the U.S. where it is legal to be fired for being gay in an effort to increase awareness of LGBT civil rights.
Through campaigns such as this one, GLAAD helps to “… ensur[e]that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media…promot[ing]understanding, increas[ing]acceptance, and advanc[ing]equality.” A poll on the Los Angeles Times site shows 94% of readers polled agree that Ellen should not only maintain her post as J.C. Penny’s spokesperson, but call Ellen “a symbol of equality.”