In recent months, the Duggar family has been put under scrutiny for their traditional stance on relationships and homosexuality. The issue garnered media attention after the family asked people to submit kissing photos on their Facebook page. However, with the family's biblical stance on marriage and relationships being well-known, the request attracted numerous people to post images of same-sex couples kissing.
The Duggar family responded by deleting the photos, which in turn sparked strong criticism from pro-gay activists, and even included harsh hateful comments from some in the LGBT community.
Despite the fact that the family's values have been well-known for many years among their fans and viewers, gay activists also started up a petition to try and get the family's show "19 Kids and Counting" canceled.
Pathway, an evangelical Christian publication from the Missouri Baptist Convention, interviewed Jim Wissick who headed the petition at Change.org. The petition was launched in August and has since gathered more than 180,000 signatures to date. Wissick confirmed that it was a response to what the Duggars did.
However, the Duggars also gave a comment to Pathway last month about the said petition.
Jim Bob said, "We love everybody, but we don't always agree with them. They won't succeed. Our show is the number one show on TLC. We love everybody. It's a small group creating this fuss. All it has done is give us more exposure. We've gained 50,000 Facebook fans last week. God is expanding our borders through the national media."
The Duggars' show has been on TLC since 2008 and just this October, it received its highest ratings of 4.41 million viewers for the episode featuring Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard's wedding. This is the biggest audience for TLC since 2010 when it aired "Sarah Palin's Alaska."
While gay activists have gone to huge lengths to garner more and more people to sign the petition over the last four to five months, there have also been thousands posting on social media sites and forums offering their strong support for the Duggars - many simply stating that regardless of their stance, they had a right to their own opinion and freedom of speech.
A counter-petition was also launched at the end of November and it has gathered more than 33,000 signatures in recent weeks.
The counter-petition reads, "The Duggar family's central theme is their pro-life, Christian values and Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 19 children have been outspoken over the years in defending human life from abortion and promoting abstinence education."
TLC has yet to comment on the petition and counter-petition, but given the exposure the family and the show are getting nowadays, a cancellation is unlikely, and the publicity the issue has brought to the family and their show has in fact helped raise the show to a new high in the ratings.