One Million Moms again targets Ellen over JCP Christmas commercial

J.C. Penney spokeswoman Ellen DeGeneres’ new Christmas ad for the company has sparked more outrage from anti-gay group One Million Moms.

It’s been several months since anti-gay hate group One Million Moms voiced its disdain for lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres and her role as J.C. Penney spokeswoman.

But after a new TV commercial aired this week featuring DeGeneres persuading Santa’s elves to make more gifts for J.C. Penney’s button holiday giveaway, OMM couldn’t stay silent anymore.

The ad isn’t controversial. It’s quite humorous as DeGeneres makes a few short jokes while asking the elves for help.

OMM, a group started by the American Family Association, first targeted the retail chain in February, protesting DeGeneres’ selection as spokeswoman because she is gay. After that, it was the same-sex Mother’s Day and Father’s Day print ads — which featured local couples — that sparked another call for a protest.

“Since April, J.C. Penney’s has not aired Ellen DeGeneres in one of their commercials until now. A new JCP ad features Ellen and three elves. JCP has made their choice to offend a huge majority of their customers again. Christians must now vote with their wallets,” OMM reportedly wrote on its website.

The site is now down, though it may only be a temporary glitch. Or maybe hacker group Anonymous is claiming its next victim.

Watch the commercial below.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas’ gay J.C. Penney dads offer company congrats on GLAAD award


Plano-based J.C. Penney received GLAAD’s Mainstream Market Award for advertising this week for the company’s Father’s day ad featuring local gay dads Cooper and Todd Koch.

The award was part of GLAAD’s Amplifier Awards that recognizes exceptional advertising and media representations of the LGBT community.

Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch were featured in the June ad, which sparked anti-gay hate group One Million Moms group to boycott the retail chain again.

Smith and Koch recorded a video with their kids Clarie and Mason congratulating the company on the award and thanking J.C. Penney for their inclusion of the LGBT community in their advertising.

To view a complete of nominees, go here.

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Cooper Smith, Todd Koch head to N.Y. with local J.C. Penney LGBT employees for Pride parade

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith are seen here with their two children in the June edition of J.C. Penney’s catalog.

Gay Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch will leave their kids in Big D this weekend as they travel to march in New York’s Pride parade on J.C. Penney’s float.

Smith told Instant Tea that he and Koch will join about 100 other friends and supporters from the DFW area.

J.C. Penney spokeswoman Kate Coultas said the Plano-based LGBT employee group PRIDE organized the trip and will have about 250 employees march on Sunday.

“As we focus on becoming America’s favorite store, we’re committed to being a store for all Americans,” Coultas wrote in an email.

She added that those attending will wear J.C. Penney’s Pride shirts, which are only available online.

Cooper said he was honored to be asked to join in the Big Apple’s Pride festivities to celebrate the company’s diversity.

“Todd and I are so proud of J.C. Penney for how they’ve made an effort to represent all families and how they’ve stood squarely by their message of inclusiveness,” Smith said. “The whole experience has been heart-warming. Being asked to walk alongside hundreds of their employees, families and friends is the ultimate cherry on top!”

Photos from the parade are below.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas dad Cooper Smith of J.C. Penney ad fame writes heartfelt op-ed about Father’s Day gift

Cooper Smith, right, and Todd Koch were special guests Gay Bingo in the Rose Room on Saturday, June 16.

While many dads may have had the normal joys of fatherhood to celebrate Sunday, Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch celebrated the public’s support for their family, which was featured in J.C. Penney’s June catalog.

Smith wrote an op-ed about the experience, highlighting the “gift of overwhelming love and support” that he and Koch received this Father’s Day.

The ad has made international news, leading to hundreds of supportive messages from gay and straight couples, Smith writes in the piece published on The Advocate’s website:

While we had no hesitation in doing the ad itself, we initially girded ourselves for a negative backlash. To our surprise, the response to our famiy has been overwhelmingly positive — shockingly positive, in fact.

We’ve received hundreds of emails, Facebook posts, Twitter comments and cards in the mail from everyone from long-lost friends and classmates to complete strangers in remote parts of the United States and beyond, each filled with heartfelt sentiments of support and acceptance. We’ve even heard from celebrities and other public figures.

Sure, there have been some pretty hateful comments and notes, too. But they’re nothing we haven’t heard our whole lives. More importantly, they’ve been eclipsed at least 100-to-1 by the positive ones.

Smith and Koch were special guests at Gay Bingo in the Rose Room on Saturday, where they spoke about the flood of media attention. CNN featured the family in a segment Friday, focusing on advertisers’ inclusion of same-sex couples lately from J.C. Penney’s lesbian couple in May to Gap and travel agencies. Smith said in the CNN interview that he thinks it is the first time gay dads have been featured with their children in an ad by a national company. Watch the segment below. The couple was also interviewed by The New York Times last week but that article has yet to be published.

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: Gay Dallas dads Cooper Smith, Todd Koch discuss J.C. Penney ad on Daybreak

Dallas dads Todd Koch and Copper Smith with their two children, Claire and Mason, on WFAA's Daybreak on Tuesday morning.

After J.C. Penney’s June catalog hit mailboxes last week, Dallas gay couple Cooper Smith and Todd Koch have been in the middle of attacks made by One Million Moms.

In May, a lesbian couple was featured in the Mother’s Day issue, sparking another boycott from One Million Moms. The group is affiliated with the American Family Association and has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The group stated on its website last week that the public should send back the catalogs until J.C. Penney stops going “down the same path of promoting sin in their advertisements.”

The couple appeared on Daybreak with their two children this morning to discuss the negative attention and the positive support they’ve received.

“We expected some of it. We didn’t expect to go unnoticed at all,” Smith said on Daybreak. “We certainly didn’t expect the newspapers in London and all over the world to be calling and emailing and writing about this.”

Koch said the “support has been overwhelming positive” from family and friends.

In response to whether the ad reflects a new movement or the modern family, Smith said the ad “just reflects our life. We care about the exact same things any other parents care about. Are our kid safe, are they happy, are they getting to school on time and have they eaten lunch yet?”

Smith previously told Instant Tea he and Koch were asked about the One Million Moms situation before they agreed to be in the catalog in February. He said the couple was not fazed by the possible criticism and embraced representing diverse families.

“Obviously we’re not ashamed of our family,” he said. “It’s very tastefully done.”

Watch some of the news coverage below.

—  Anna Waugh

One Million Moms attacks J.C. Penney’s Father’s Day ad featuring gay Dallas couple and their kids

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith are seen here with their two children in J.C. Penney’s June catalog.

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith and their two children are featured in the June edition of J.C. Penney’s catalog.

Smith said he was asked by a casting agent in Dallas in early February to be in the Father’s Day issue after the agent saw his family’s Christmas photo on Facebook.

They agreed and did a photo shoot in Addison shortly afterward. He said the picture is very natural with the kids, Mason, almost 3, and Claire, 3, running around and having a fun time.

“The photo is just a one-second photo of our life,” Smith said. “It’s a candid moment of how we interact with each other.”

The ad features Koch and Smith in a relaxed home setting playing with their two children under the words “First Pals.” The text reads, “What makes Dad so cool? He’s the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver – all rolled into one. Or two.” The text at the bottom right-hand corner reads, “Real-life dads, Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their children Claire and Mason.”

Smith said the agents were seeking a variety of families for the issue, but they are the only gay family featured.

“They were just trying to present a wholesome gay family and I guess we fit the bill for that,” he said. “They’re really trying to represent what America looks like, and that’s not just heterosexual white people.”

The company’s inclusion of a lesbian couple with their daughters and one of the women’s mothers in the May issue sparked the anti-gay hate group One Million Moms to reactivate a boycott of the store. The unsuccessful boycott had been dropped in March after J.C. Penney stood firmly behind its hiring of lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres as a company spokeswoman.

Smith said they were asked about the OMM situation before they agreed to be included, but he said it was not an issue.

“Obviously we’re not ashamed of our family,” he said. “It’s very tastefully done.”

Catalogs started going out Wednesday, and One Million Moms responded Thursday, writing on the group’s website that J.C. Penney is “continuing down the same path of promoting sin in their advertisements.”

The group urges the public to return the catalogs in protest, as well as call and email the company.

“It is obvious that JCP would rather take sides than remain neutral in the culture war. JCP will hear from the other side so they need to hear from us as well,” OMM’s statement reads online. “Our persistence will pay off! One day we will answer for our actions or lack of them. We must remain diligent and stand up for Biblical values and truth. Scripture says multiple times that homosexuality is wrong, and God will not tolerate this sinful nature.”

The full statement is below.

—  Anna Waugh

Lesbian couple featured in J.C. Penney catalog, reigniting hate group’s boycott of company

An ad in J.C. Penney's May 2012 catalog featuring Wendi with her mom, partner and daughters. The ad says Wendi's mom is an artist with a gallery in Granbury, south of Fort Worth.

The boycott of Plano-based J.C. Penney is back on by hate group One Million Moms after a lesbian couple was featured in the store’s May catalog. The ad features Wendi with her mom, partner and daughters with the words “freedom of expression” over the picture.

“You’ll often find Wendi, her partner, Maggie, and daughters elbow-deep in paint, clay or mosaics,” the ad reads. Further on it explains that Wendi’s mother is an artist with a gallery in Granbury, Texas, and reiterates that the picture is of “Wendi with her mom Carolyn, daughters Raven and Clover, and partner Maggie.”

OMM ended the J.C. Penney boycott in March after the company came out in defense of selecting lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres as its spokeswoman. While “so many issues” OMM is working on took precedence before, the group states on its website that it has “no choice but to move on earlier in the year but have decided to revisit this issue and speak out again.”

Apparently store managers who received complaints from OMM supporters or those who disagreed with DeGeneres representing the company were “brushed off,” according to OMM.

“Last time OMM contacted JC Penney store managers, we were brushed off,” OMM states on its website. “Some even experienced in person the store manager saying ‘Thank you’ and walking off while their customer and our concerned members were in mid-sentence. OMM has been told that JCP corporate office told store managers to say ‘Thank you’ and then walk away. If they want our business, then we will not be ignored!”

OMM is again asking store managers be approached so they will take the complaints to corporate. The group also wants emails sent to jcpcorpcomm@jcpenney.com, stating that J.C. Penney blocks OMM’s prewritten letters from its server.

Maybe because the company has addressed concerns and no longer wants its employees bothered. Just a thought.

After the jump, read the full concerns of OMM regarding the ad.

—  Anna Waugh

Hate group drops J.C. Penney boycott

EllenAd4

Ellen DeGeneres is shown in a Western outfit in a J.C. Penney commercial that aired during the Oscars — otherwise known as the gay Super Bowl — on Sunday, Feb. 26. The ad was one of five that premiered during the awards for the company’s new ‘Fair and Square’ pricing campaign.

One Million Moms announced this week that the group is ditching the J.C. Penney boycott to focus on other matters.

The group, affiliated with the American Family Association and considered an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, began the boycott shortly after the Plano-based company announced lesbian talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres would be its new spokeswoman. One Million Moms said Ellen’s being gay meant she did not stand for traditional values.

J.C. Penney stood firm in their support for DeGeneres and aired five commercials featuring her during the Oscars Feb. 26 to kick off the company’s new pricing campaign.

In response to the boycott, the Facebook group “1 Million People Who Support Ellen for JC Penney” was created and quickly garnered more than 198,000 likes. The One Million Moms Facebook page has slightly more than 45,000.

OMM Director Monica Cole told One News Now this week that while the boycott has ended, the group still received responses from many people that would not shop at J.C. Penney while DeGeneres represents the company:

“But we have heard back from so many of our members,” she shares. “We have heard back from men and women – not just moms – saying they will no longer shop there at JC Penney, as long as Ellen DeGeneres is their spokesperson.”

Cole believes OneMillionMoms has done its job by educating members about the retailer and urging them to take their business elsewhere. She says only time will tell how business goes for JC Penney.

“Everyone works hard for their money, and they want to spend their money with companies that have the same values as them,” Cole explains. “And JC Penney stated that Ellen DeGeneres shares the same values that they do. So obviously, it’s not the same as Christians or conservatives, which is unfortunate [because] JC Penney was founded by a Christian man.”

Meanwhile, the OMM director finds it interesting that Fitch Ratings, a global agency, recently downgraded JC Penney’s credit rating to “junk.”

OMM is now targeting Toys ‘R Us for selling Archie comics with a gay marriage featured on the cover. The comics have reportedly sold out.

“Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in a toy store. This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand,” OMM writes on its website. “A trip to the toy store turns into a premature discussion on sexual orientation and is completely uncalled for. Toys ‘R’ Us should be more responsible in the products they carry.”

—  Anna Waugh

J.C. Penney tells One Million Moms to suck it

Ellen DeGeneres

Earlier this week One Million Moms, an affiliate of anti-gay hate group the American Family Association, sent out an email calling on Plano-baed J.C. Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres — who’d just been named a company spokesperson — because she’s “an open homosexual.”

“Degeneres is not a true representation of the type of families that shop at their store,” One Million Moms wrote. “The majority of JC Penney shoppers will be offended and choose to no longer shop there.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which responded with a “Stand Up for Ellen” petition that has generated more than 24,000 signatures, reports today that J.C. Penney has rejected One Million Moms’ demands and “stands behind its partnership with Ellen DeGeneres.” GLAAD’s full press release is below.

—  John Wright

Top 10: Out & Equal summit drew 2,600

Berry-Selisse

CORPORATE EQUALITY | Out & Equal founder Selisse Berry spoke at the Workplace Summit held at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

No. 10

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit held Oct. 22-25 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel broke records and had a bigger impact on the city than any other LGBT conference Dallas has hosted.

More than 2,600 people registered for the convention, with participants coming from 42 states and 23 countries.

That included 60 corporate CEOs, including Wes Bush of Northrop Grumman and Mike Ullman of J.C. Penney, who both addressed the LGBT group.

According to Out & Equal spokesman Justin Tanis, the Workplace Summit raised a total of $2.5 million.

The Thursday night gala’s live and silent auctions brought in $74,660 that will benefit the Out & Equal Scholarship Fund for LGBT students.

The conference had a big impact on the local economy both in the LGBT community and Dallas in general.

At the Thursday night dinner, Bush handed Youth First Texas’ Sam Wilkes a check for $20,000.

According to Cordey Lash, a senior sales manager with the Hilton Anatole, the conference had a $3 million impact on the hotel, which included about 6,000 room-nights plus food and beverage sales. During three nights of the conference, the Anatole sold out, so three neighboring hotels filled hundreds of additional rooms.

Lash called the Summit “one of the most impactful conferences of the year.”

He also expected future business from corporations whose executives attended and were impressed with the city and his hotel’s facilities.

The conference had an impact on local LGBT merchants as well. Wednesday was Out & Equal community night.

The Cedar Springs strip was as crowded as on a busy Saturday night.

While many of the attendees were from companies that affirm and encourage diversity and have top ratings in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, the conference also attracted employees of companies such as ExxonMobil that have poor ratings.

And the conference wasn’t all business. Top-name entertainment included Candis Cayne, the first transgender actress to have a recurring role on a primetime network series (Dirty, Sexy Money); comedians Margaret Cho and Kate Clinton; actors Meredith Baxter and Wilson Cruz; and the Turtle Creek Chorale.

Speakers included Andy Cohen, Bravo’s openly gay senior vice president of original programming and development; and Rick Welts, president and chief of operations for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

Because evaluations of the event from attendees were so positive, Tanis said Out & Equal is already talking to the Anatole about returning, possibly as early as 2014.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas