Leave Ellen Alone

What's with the anti-gay criticism over DeGeneres becoming the new spokesperson for J.C. Penney anyway?

Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family talks with Ellen DeGeneres (courtesy of The Ellen DeGeneres Show)

She’s one of the most popular daytime TV hosts ever. She has an enormous fan base, gives away over-the-top prizes and dances all the way to the bank. Say what you want about Ellen DeGeneres, but she’s parlayed a short-lived sitcom and standup act into an entertainment empire, living an openly gay life while middle American audiences tune in every weekday. But One Million Moms – a subset of the anti-gay American Family Association – has called on J.C. Penney to replace DeGeneres as their new spokesperson. Why? Because she’s gay.

“Funny that J.C. Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families,” says the group on its website.

This is funny. Because we really doubt that the retailer spent time thinking about Portia when Ellen’s ratings are averaging almost three million per episode. Unless there are a lot more LGBT people than we thought, seems as though a lot of “traditional” families are tuning in, and happily so.

And this is true even though DeGeneres regularly talks about being gay, her spouse and issues near and dear to her heart – like anti-bullying and animal welfare. She’s also been named one of the most powerful women by Forbes.

Interestingly, more than 94 percent of L.A. Times readers said they like the idea of DeGeneres being the new J.C. Penney spokesperson. And after the anti-gay groups reared their ugly heads, there are even petitions supporting her with thousands of signatures on Change.org.

J.C. Penney also seems to be standing by its woman. “Ellen DeGeneres is one of the most fun and vibrant people in entertainment today,” says Michael Francis, president of J.C. Penney. “The millions who watch her on television and follow her through social media relate to her and trust what she has to say. Importantly, we share the same values as Ellen. At J.C. Penney, we couldn’t think of a better partner to help us put the fun back into the retail experience.”

DeGeneres admitted recently that she even once worked at a J.C. Penney in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, where she’s from. “I don’t think I ever clocked out on my last day,” joked the comedian. “I should look into that.”

She went onto say that she’s happy to be on board (add this to her role as an official Cover Girl). “I’m gonna get my employee discount again,” said DeGeneres. “Hello new pillows!”