HOUSTON, Texas (Christian Examiner) -- This weekend, fans of the TLC Network's reality TV hit "19 Kids and Counting" took to social media in an attempt to grow the support of a petition countering efforts by LGBT activists seeking to to cancel the series.
The petition created by LifeSiteNews to defend the Duggars urges The Learning Channel to keep the show and gathered more than 170,000 signatures over the weekend. As of Sunday, Nov. 23, signatures on the petition supporting the Duggars outnumbered those on the opponents' petition by more than 9,000 signatures. The Duggars have also received the support of numerous prominent conservative activists including popular personalities David and Jason Benham, former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder and American Family Association President Tim Wildmon.
In addition to the petition, LifesiteNews launched a Tweetfest Friday, Nov. 21, using the hashtag #DefendtheDuggars, to engage the family's supporters.
The campaign to keep the reality show featuring Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar and their 19 children on-air began late last week after an anti-Duggar petition gained thousands of signatures in fewer than 24 hours when E! Online and The New Civil Rights Movement published stories about the petition against the family.
The change.org petition targeting the Duggars claims the family uses their fame "to promote discrimination, hate, and fear-mongering against gays and transgendered people," and asks the TLC network to "end LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars."
The effort to cancel the series first began in late August when petition creator Jim Wissick, found pre-election fund raising reports revealing the Duggars donated $10,000 to a group called Repeal 119 that formed in opposition of a Fayetteville Civil Rights Ordinance. The bill like others being coordinated by LBGT groups nationwide allows transsexuals, people with confused sexual identities -- where their biology and sense of sexual identity do not match -- to use any public bathroom regardless of privacy issues regarding gender. Men would be allowed to use women's restrooms and vice versa.
In a Nov. 2 update on his petition, Wissick claims the new law which "the Duggars want repealed would prohibit business owners and landlords from unjustly firing or evicting someone because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics."
Although the ordinance was initially passed by the Fayetteville City Council on Aug. 20, Repeal 119 gathered enough signatures to keep the law from immediately passing, instead sending it for a public vote scheduled for Dec. 9.
In a news post on the LifeSiteNews website, David and Jason Benham compared the effort to remove the Duggars from television programming to the loss of their own HGTV show this summer because of their Christian beliefs saying it is part of "the same intolerant agenda that attacked our family."
That agenda "is now demonizing one of the most wholesome families in America," said the brothers. "The Duggars have always been an example of Christian love for each other and society. It's time for Americans to stand with them against this latest manifestation of anti-Christian bullying."
Human Life International and American Thinker deputy editor Drew Belsky also stood in support of the Duggars.
"Silencing those who disagree flies in the face of the 'free and open' mantra we often hear from the folks who want adult male strangers joining your young daughter in the bathroom," said Belsky. "But this is how 'tolerance' and 'open-mindedness' play out for a movement insisting that concrete concepts – like 'man' and 'woman' – can mean anything one chooses."