J.C. Penney Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson appeared on CBS This Morning on Thursday (9 February) to reiterate his company's support for Ellen DeGeneres, its new spokeswoman.
DeGeneres has been under attack by the conservative OneMillionMoms.com group who wanted J.C. Penney to fire the popular talk show host because she is gay. The group claims the company is trying to gain a new target market by ‘jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon’ with its hiring of DeGeneres to revamp their clothing and household brand.
While One Million Moms has been slammed by many for its anti-gay stance, Johnson said he sees it as a matter of free speech.
'We don't look at it like a controversy,' he said. 'One of the great things about America is people can speak their mind. And you know, the organization that believes one thing has spoken and it was great to see Ellen share her views.'
On her talk show Wednesday, DeGeneres thanked J.C. Penney and the public for its support and said ‘being gay or pro-gay isn’t a bandwagon. You don’t get a free ride anywhere.’
While Johnson defends the right of One Million Moms to speak out, he said his company will '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 added. '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.'