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