Last week an anti-gay group calling itself One Million Moms unsuccessfully tried persuading JC Penney to fire the openly gay Ellen DeGeneres from her new spokesperson job.

“Anti-gay conservative group opposes pro-gay hiring policy” is nothing new, but “Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly sides with lesbian against anti-gay conservative group” certainly is. O’Reilly made waves on Tuesday night’s episode of The O’Reilly Factor, when he compared One Million Moms’ efforts to McCarthyism.

If you remember with the McCarthy era of the 1950s, they were trying to hunt down communist sympathizers and not let them work and put them on a blacklist… What is the difference between the McCarthy-era communist blacklist in the ‘50s and the Million Moms saying, 'Hey, JC Penney and all you other stores, don’t you hire any gay people. Don’t you dare.’ What is the difference?

O’Reilly—known for his bombastic conservative style—explained that he supported the right of anti-gay groups to boycott JC Penney, but trying to get DeGeneres fired is beyond the pale: “The essential question is that a conservative group in this country is asking a private company to fire an American citizen based upon her lifestyle …. to come out and demand the woman be fired, that’s wrong.”

   

On Wednesday night the story exploded on Twitter, and the response of most could be summarized as “happy surprise.” Andre Lopez-Varela tweeted the story to his friends with the note, “in what is surely the first sign of the apocalypse, bill o'reilly is defending ellen degeneres”.   

Randal Milholland was equally surprised by O’Reilly’s view: “Adding to the surreal: Bill O'Reilly defends Ellen Degeneres, calls One Million Moms' crusade ‘a witchhunt’,” and MilitantMidgetGoon exclaimed “Can't believe I actually agree with Bill O'Reilly.....leave Ellen Degeneres alone!”

DeGeneres herself was quick to tweet her thanks to O’Reilly, too.

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