Demands to end a series of new Campbell Soup Company ads published in the gay media have been roundly rejected by the company. The iconic American brand has said it would not retract from its first foray into the gay and lesbian market.

The soup hullabaloo erupted on the Internet when a series of ads highlighting the company's Swanson brand of broth with recipes and celebrity chef endorsements appeared in the December issue of gay monthly The Advocate. The four-page spread features openly lesbian Cafe Forant Chef Lea Forant with her partner, Carolyn, and their young son Eli.

The Christian-based American Family Association (AFA) called the Campbell campaign an endorsement of gay families and the “homosexual agenda.”

“Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda,” the AFA wrote in an action alert that urged members to complain to Campbell's.

“Not only did the ads cost Campbell's a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support.”

“They also gave their approval to the entire homosexual agenda,” the group said.

Amid the protest, Campbell's is offering no apologies for the ads.

“Our position on this is pretty straightforward,” company rep Anthony Sanzio told AdAge. “Inclusion and diversity play an important role in our business, and that fact is reflected in our marketing plan. For more than a century, people from all walks of life have enjoyed Campbell's products, and we will continue to try to communicate in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them.”

The AFA, founded in 1977 by Rev. Donald Wildmon, has a long history of objecting to equal rights for gays and lesbians. It has lobbied against gay marriage and hate-crime legislation that would benefit gays.

The association has protested gay-inclusive advertising in the past by boycotting those companies that have marketed to the gay community.

In March, the AFA ended its two-year boycott against Ford Motor Company after it stopped advertising in the gay media. The automaker, however, has said it stopped running all niche advertising when the economy soured.

A 6-month boycott against hamburger giant McDonald's ended abruptly in October after the group said the company had agreed to “remain neutral in the culture war regarding homosexual marriage.” That statement, however, was never confirmed by the company.

Sanzio said that the company will continue marketing to the gay and lesbian community.