JC Penney took some heat from anti-gay group OneMillionMoms, a subgroup of American Family Association, when it hired Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson earlier this year.
Then they were in the group's crosshairs again for first featuring lesbians in its catalog then later two gay dads. Despite being threatened with boycott, the chain held firm and did not change any of its advertising materials.
Now, instead of being boycotted by its foes, the company is being celebrated by its friends.
The US retailer will be honored on Saturday (3 November) in Dallas, Texas, for its support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community by Black Tie Dinner Inc., a nonprofit organization that raises funds for LGBT-supportive organizations.
'JC Penney leaders have an incredible vision for the future and are completely reinventing their stores to become a place where everyone feels welcomed and appreciated,' says Black Tie Dinner Co-Chair Chris Kouvelis. 'As a company founded on the Golden Rule, JC Penney makes it a practice to treat all people with the respect they deserve.'
At the height of the DeGeneres controversy, JC Penney Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson Johnson defended the right of One Million Moms to speak out. But he said his company would 'stand squarely behind Ellen as our spokesperson and that's a great thing.'
'She shares the same values that we do in our company,' he said. 'Our company was founded 110 years ago on The Golden Rule, which is about treating people fair and square, just like you would like to be treated yourself. And we think Ellen represents the values of our company and the values that we share.'
Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as well as organizations that collectively provide services to more than 135,000 individuals annually in the North Texas area.