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JC Penny is being criticized by an anti-gay activist group for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as brand spokesperson.
One Million Moms, an anti-gay activist group tied to the American Family Association, is calling on retailer JC Penney to drop talk show host and openly-gay comedienne Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson.
"By jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, JC Penny [sic] is attemping to gain a new target market and in the process will lose customers with traditional values that have been faithful to them over all these years," OMM writes on its official website.
"DeGeneres is not a true representation of the type of families that shop at their store," the OMM post reads.
In a written statement, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) spokesperson Herndon Graddick counters OMM's claim that Ellen is not a mainstream figure.
"Selecting an out performer who has inspired and entertained millions, is not only a smart business practice but a reflection of how LGBT Americans today are an integral and valued part of the fabric of our culture."
Hiring the popular entertainer as spokesperson was a central tenet of recently-installed CEO Ron Johnson's initative to revitalize the century-old Texas-based department store. (Johnson was formerly VP of Retail of Apple, Inc. and is the person largely credited with the launch of Apple Retail Stores and the Genius Bar).
DeGeneres, who has yet to comment on the ongoing controversy, recently told an audience on her daytime talk show that one of her early jobs in the 1970s was a salesperson gig at a JCPenney in Louisiana.
One Million Moms, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has deemed a hate group, has consistently staked out similar territory in the culture wars and frequently launches campaigns against what it considers the "immortality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children."
The group has previously called on advertisors and sponsors to sever their ties to the Fox's "Glee" and ABC's "Modern Family," both of which feature homosexual characters in major roles. OMM has also lambasted raunchy cable programs like MTV's "Skins" and FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."