Supporters are rallying to counter a conservative group's campaign urging JC Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman because she is openly gay.
They are showing their support for the popular talk show host, named spokeswoman for the department store chain last week, online and through social media.
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Shortly after the American Family Association's One Million Moms group launched its campaign against DeGeneres, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination launched a "Stand Up for Ellen" website; within 17 hours, more than 10,000 people signed an online petition supporting DeGeneres and JC Penney's choice. An unscientific poll in the Los Angeles Times showed that 96 percent of readers support DeGeneres.
They also expressed their outrage on Twitter. A sample tweet on Thursday protesting the campaign reads: "Dear One Million Moms "a family values group", spend more time loving your families instead of perpetuating hate."
The AFA's "One Million Moms," a project made up of an undetermined number of mothers, is urging people to call JC Penney headquarters and demand that the Texas-based department store chain ditch DeGeneres because the Cover Girl model, former American Express spokeswoman, Peoples Choice Award winner and New York Times bestselling author is gay.
So far, it hasn't happened.
DeGeneres, incidentally, is a former JC Penney sales clerk.
While some people chuckle at the group's demand that DeGeneres (pictured above with wife Portia DeRossi) be fired because she is, as the "moms" put it, "an open homosexual," GLAAD points out that in 29 states, it is legal to fire people because they are gay.
"Since Ellen came out 15 years ago, the nation has evolved and support for LGBT people is at an all-time high,” GLAAD spokesman Herndon Graddick said Thursday. “Although it is still legal to fire someone for being gay in 29 states, Americans are fair-minded people who know that firing someone just for being gay is not what this country is about. J.C. Penney is standing with Ellen and so do we."
Between Jan. 16 and Jan. 22, DeGeneres' daytime talk show averaged 3.38 million viewers. And she has nearly 9 million Twitter followers and 6.5 million Facebook fans.
Perhaps more important: First Lady Michelle Obama appears on the comedian's daytime show today.
The American Family Association has not returned a call for comment. DeGeneres was unavailable.