The Hallmark Channel, which bills itself the “country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment,” apologized Sunday for removing an ad from Zola.com that features two brides kissing and has reinstated it after backlash from gay rights advocates.
The ad was initially removed after Hallmark heard the complaints of activists who requested that its content remain friendly to conservative families.
“Earlier this week, a decision was made at Crown Media Family Networks to remove commercials featuring a same-sex couple. 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,” Mike Perry, president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards said in a statement.
“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” he ended.
Zola, a wedding website service, had a series of six commercials for the Hallmark Channel which debuted on television Dec. 2, The New York Times reported. One of the ads featured the lesbian couple which prompted protest from conservative group One Million Moms.
“The Hallmark Channel has always been known for its family friendly movies. Even its commercials are usually safe for family viewing. But unfortunately, that is not the case anymore,” the group said in a petition.
“Recently, One Million Moms received concerns about Hallmark airing a commercial from Zola.com in which two lesbians are shown kissing at the end of their wedding ceremony. Similar concerns from regular viewers are posted on an online complaint board for the Hallmark Channel,” the group said. “Shame on Hallmark for airing commercials with same-sex couples.”
Hallmark responded by pulling the ad of the lesbian couple along with three others from Zola. Mike Chi, the chief marketing officer of Zola, told The New York Times Sunday that the decision left them “deeply troubled” but said he was relieved when the network decided to reinstate the ad.
“We were deeply troubled when Hallmark rejected our commercials for featuring a lesbian couple celebrating their marriage, and are relieved to see that decision was reversed,” Chi said Sunday. “We are humbled by everyone who showed support not only for Zola, but for all the L.G.B.T.Q. couples and families who express their love on their wedding day, and every day.”
Popular media streaming service Netflix, which is also currently under fire for featuring a Brazilian comedy called “The First Temptation of Christ” which depicts Jesus as a closeted gay man, appeared to mock Hallmark’s initial reaction to conservative outrage in a tweet on Saturday.
“Titles Featuring Lesbians Joyfully Existing And Also It’s Christmas Can We Just Let People Love Who They Love. Let It Snow. Merry Happy Whatever,” the company said in the tweet with images of women kissing.
One Million Moms is not happy with Hallmark Channel’s reversal and urged supporters of conservative family values boycott the channel.
“After removing a controversial ad featuring two lesbians kissing at the end of their wedding ceremony, Hallmark has again reversed course –– and apologized for offending the homosexual community. One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, is now calling for a boycott of the channel,” the group said in a recent statement.
“It is the belief of 1MM that same-sex relationships are still extremely controversial and it should be left to parents to bring up the subject with children. It is clear that Hallmark is no longer family friendly, and parents will need to exercise caution before heading to the channel,” they continued.
“One Million Moms is asking once again for Hallmark to stay true to its family friendly roots that so many families have grown to love, and to keep sex and sexual content – including the promotion of homosexuality – out of its programming,” the group added.