The Hallmark Channel pulled ads that featured two brides kissing at the altar as they were under pressure by a conservative advocacy group. The ads were supposedly for Zola, a wedding-planning website.
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According to Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark, “the debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”
She added that the Hallmark brand “is never going to be divisive.” She said they’ve tried hard to stay out of controversy. However, LGBT members and supporters like Ellen DeGeneres reacted: “Isn’t it almost 2020? What are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears,” DeGeneres tweeted.
Associated Press (AP) reported that Biwer confirmed that One Million Moms, a conservative group part of the American Family Association with a mission to “fight against indecency,” complained about the ads to Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark’s parent company. AP added that “a post on the group’s website said that Abbott ‘reported the advertisement aired in error.’”
Zola submitted six ads – four of which having a lesbian couple. “After Hallmark pulled those ads, but not two featuring only opposite-sex couples, Zola pulled its remaining ads, the company said,” as reported by Associated Press.
The original complaint from One Million Moms stated the following: “Please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples, and please do not add LGBT movies to the Hallmark Channel. Such content goes against Christian and conservative values that are important to your primary audience. You will lose viewers if you cave to the LGBT agenda.”
Following criticisms about pulling same-sex marriage commercials from Zola, Hallmark will reinstate these commercials that it pulled from the network. The issue started with a complaint from the conservative group One Million Moms. A Hallmark spokesperson explained that the controversy was creating a distraction.
According to Mike Perry, Hallmark Cards CEO, “the Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
The LGBT advocacy group Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) called the initial decision “discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming and also recently stated they are ‘open’ to LGBTQ holiday movies.”
“Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands,” said Hallmark.