Support for a petition to get the Duggar family’s reality show 19 Kids and Counting canceled because of the Duggars’ anti-LGBT stances has skyrocketed, with the number of signatures increasing more than 10-fold in the past two days.
As of this morning, the Change.org petition had more than 93,000 signatures, up from 7,000 Tuesday. The apparent reason for the surge was E! Online coverage of the petition, which was initiated August 30 by Jim Wissick of San Jose, Calif.
Headlined “End LGBTQ Fear Mongering by the Duggars,” the petition urges the Learning Channel to cancel 19 Kids and Counting, which follows the lives of the large fundamentalist Christian family. “The Duggars have been using their fame to promote discrimination, hate, and fear-mongering against gays and transgendered people,” it reads. “You need to take a stand on the side of justice and cancel their show.”
It specifically calls out matriarch Michelle Duggar for her efforts to stop an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinance in Fayetteville, Ark. Over the summer, she recorded a robocall warning that if transgender people are allowed to use the restroom most appropriate to their gender identity, it will enable sexual predators to assault women and children. The ordinance passed nonetheless, but now, Wissick says, the Duggars are bankrolling an attempt to repeal it.
“The Duggars have thrown massive amounts of money to repeal this law so business owners and land lords can evict and fire people solely over gender idenity and sexual orientation!” Wissick wrote in an update. “They need to be taken off the air!”
Last week Michelle and her husband, Jim Bob Duggar, posted a request on the family’s official Facebook page for “all married couples” to share photos of themselves kissing. Some same-sex couples decided to join in. John Becker, editor in chief of The Bilerico Project, an LGBT website, posted a photograph of him kissing his husband in front of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. His submission was deleted, along with that of most other same-sex couples who shared their love on the Duggars’ page. (One posted by Seattle lesbian journalist Sarah Toce, pictured kissing her wife, was still on the page this morning.)
“They started yanking photos of same-sex couples kissing and banning the people who posted them, myself included,” Becker wrote on Bilerico. “It’s their page, of course, so they have every right to do that. But as I noted, the whole episode says something about them and their gay panic-saturated worldview.”
He spoke to The Advocate yesterday about the petition, saying, “I'm quite astonished by how this has blown up. I knew the Duggars from their extensive anti-LGBT activism — their son is on the staff at the Family Research Council, Michelle’s disgustingly transphobic robocall in Fayetteville, Ark., etc. — but we don’t watch ‘reality’ TV, so I had no idea how huge their following was.”
“I'm not affiliated with the petition,” Becker added. “And to be honest, I’m not sure it’ll result in a cancellation — after all, Duck Dynasty is still on the air even after Phil Robertson’s homophobia/racism scandal. But this story is definitely having an impact, because it’s starting conversations about marriage equality in spaces that may still not be used to having those conversations yet, and it’s exposing the Duggars’ fans and social media followers — a good number of whom are social and religious conservatives — to images of loving, happily married same-sex couples, possibly for the first time. The fact that so many of the responses were positive shows how quickly hearts and minds are changing on LGBT issues.”