Following the temporary retreat from Facebook by the anti-gay One Million Moms, a pro-gay group has sprung up on the social-media site hoping to capitalize on its absence.
Called, yes, One Million Moms, the group describes itself as "One Million Moms and friends of moms who support LGBT rights. Let's put a positive spin to the group name One Million Moms by supporting equal rights to people of all orientations, creeds, genders and colors." To further tweak the other One Million Moms, the new Facebook page flies the banner of the Human Rights Campaign and uses an image from the current JC Penney Father's Day ad that has so enraged the other organization.
The new OMM explains that, "Using a 'Risk' metric, any time a territory like this is contested, it weakens the prior occupier's footing and destabilizes their hold on that particular region of Cyberspace. Fundamentalist mothers looking for the original page will be confused, join the wrong thing, or not join at all; it muddies the message and strengthens the position of the new occupiers. This new page might not garner all that many followers initially, but its presence WILL deny the previous owners their beachhead and create a blockade to one of their most persuasive channels."
A project of the American Family Association, a conservative Christian organization labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the original One Million Moms gained notoriety in February, when it launched a boycott of JC Penney for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as its spokeswoman. The effort failed spectacularly, leading the group to temporarily disappear from Facebook after fans of the lesbian talk-show host came flocking to OMM's page. Detect the trend yet?
One Million Moms came to the attention of many comic fans that same month when it attempted to convince Toys "R" Us to stop carrying Life With Archie #16, which featured the wedding of gay character Kevin Keller. That, too, backfired, as that issue quickly sold out. Undeterred, the group targeted comics again in May, rallying its followers to email DC Comics and Marvel and urge them to immediately “change and cancel all plans of homosexual superhero characters."
Unsuccessful yet again, One Million Moms issued a "warning" Friday on Facebook about the official announcement that Green Lantern Alan Scott will be reintroduced as gay. The post was immediately inundated by comments largely supportive of DC's decision, leading the page's administrator to begin deleting positive responses before apparently giving up and removing the post entirely. Shortly afterward, the page disappeared from Facebook, followed by an unconvincing tweet announcing “OMM will be offline most of next week for Vacation Bible School!”
Although the name One Million Moms is relatively new, the group behind it is not. The American Family Association is Mississippi-based nonprofit founded in 1977 by Donald Wildmon, who's probably best remembered for his “campaigns for decency” against M*A*S*H, Disneyland/Walt Disney World and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” video. The organization has boycotted companies ranging from Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch to Hallmark and Pampers.
Its interest in comics isn't new, either. Neil Gaiman pointed out over the weekend that the AFA is the same group that launched a crusade against The Sandman in the 1990s. We all know how well that turned out.
"Personally, I date the success of Sandman to the letter from the American Family Association's 'Concerned Mothers of America,' which informed us that they had officially started to boycott Sandman. (We ran it in the letter column at the time.)," Gaiman wrote in 2003, when the group took aim at the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Pittsburgh Comicon. "That was the point at which sales began to go up, and they've never stopped. Based on that, I tend to see an American Family Association attack as a particularly good omen."