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JC Penney stands up to bigots

BY ROB SALERNO – When news got out that JC Penney had hired talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, the bigots came out in full force. The American Family Association sent out its “One Million Moms” group to launch a protest against the clothing retailer, calling on the company to dump DeGeneres as a sponsor and “be neutral in the culture war.”

Well, GLAAD decided not to take this sitting down. On Wednesday, the organization launched a counter-offensive, urging supporters to call JC Penney to encourage them to hold on to Ellen as a spokesperson. GLAAD even launched a Twitter campaign urging people to use the hashtag #StandUpForEllen. By Thursday, they’d reported more than 10,000 calls to JC Penney and as of Saturday, almost 30,000 signatures to an online petition at change.org.

JC Penney eventually came out with a statement affirming its decision to hire DeGeneres as its spokesperson. Apparently, the company is no longer taking calls from One Million Moms.

But that’s not where the story ends. As GLAAD notes, in 29 states — including Texas, where JC Penney is headquartered — it’s still legal to fire someone for being gay or lesbian. In 34 states, it’s okay to fire someone for being transgender. There have been various efforts to introduce a federal anti-discrimination law for about 40 years, but they’ve all been unsuccessful so far.