J.C. Penney stands behind Ellen DeGeneres despite protest from conservative group

New York J.C. Penney Co. on Friday said it fully backs its partnership with the popular television star and comedian Ellen DeGeneres. Its support comes after One Million Moms, an extension of the conservative American Family Association group, asked the retailer to dump DeGeneres as a spokeswoman because she is a lesbian.

In an e-mailed statement reported by Reuters, a J.C. Penney spokesperson wrote, "JC Penney stands behind its partnership with Ellen DeGeneres" and added that its announcement of the agreement sums up the retailer’s feelings of the TV personality.

In the statement, which was issued by the chain on Jan. 25, Penney president Michael Francis described DeGeneres "one of the most fun and vibrant people in entertainment today, with great warmth and a down-to-earth attitude."

One Million Moms criticized the company for not being "neutral in the culture war."

"Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families. More sales will be lost than gained unless they replace their spokesperson quickly," the group posted on their website. It also urged supporters to call their local J.C. Penney store manager to lodge complaints against hiring DeGeneres.

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