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.

J.C. Penney Stands with Ellen DeGeneres, Won’t Fire Her as Spokesperson
GLAAD and Thousands Thank J.C. Penney, Raise Awareness for the Lack for
Job Protections for LGBT Americans

New York, NY, February 3, 2012 – GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today applauded J.C. Penney’s decision keep Ellen DeGeneres as their national spokesperson after “OneMillionMoms.com a project of the American Family Association” which is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) demanded that J.C. Penney fire Ellen DeGeneres because she is gay.

In an emailed statement to Yahoo! Shine, J.C. Penney today confirmed it “stands behind its partnership with Ellen DeGeneres.”

GLAAD is continuing to ask supporters to thank J.C. Penney by signing a Change.org action here: www.glaad.org/standupforellen

In less than two days, nearly 25,000 have signed. For more information and a list of states where Americans can be fired for being gay or transgender, visit www.glaad.org/standupforellen

“This week Americans spoke out in overwhelming support of LGBT people and J.C. Penney’s decision not to fire Ellen simply for who she happens to love,” said Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Programs and Communications at GLAAD. “But while Ellen has the nation on her side, in 29 states today, Americans can still be legally fired just for being gay. Our elected officials should use this incident as yet another example of the support for legal protections for all hard working employees.”

Today, Americans can be fired in 29 states because of their sexual orientation, and in 34 states because of their gender identity.

Blogs including Joe My God, Think Progress, Lez Get Real and Towleroad first broke the news about the American Family Association’s demands to fire Ellen and joined GLAAD in calling on community members and allies to thank J.C. Penney. In an overwhelming display of support, a poll on the Los Angeles Times site shows 94% of readers polled agree that Ellen should not only maintain her post as J.C. Penney’s spokesperson, but call Ellen “a symbol of equality.”

Jeremy Hooper of Good As You notes that “One Million Moms- a project of the American Family Association” has a long history of working to strip LGBT people of vital protections, including actions against Johnson & Johnson after the company extended domestic partner benefits to LGBT employees and Cracker Barrel after the chain added workplace protections for gay and lesbian employees.