Hallmark Channel vows to reinstate same-sex wedding advert after backlash

Television network admits to making 'the wrong decision'

Sarah Young@sarah_j_young
Monday 16 December 2019 09:21
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Zola Easy Wedding Planning TV Ad

The Hallmark Channel has apologised for its decision to withdraw a television advertisement featuring a same-sex couple.

On Friday, Hallmark pulled an advert for wedding registry and planning website Zola, which featured a lesbian couple kissing at their wedding.

This was following criticism from One Million Mums, a division of the American Family Association (AFA), which regularly campaigns against LGBT+ rights.

But on Monday, Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards said that the American network would be reversing that decision.

It said: “The Crown Media team has been agonising over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision.

“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."

The statement continued: “We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”

In the previous statement, confirming the advert would be pulled, the channel said: “The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”

(Zola)

By Sunday evening, the network faced a fierce backlash on social media from LGBT+ charities and a number of celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres who tweeted: “Isn’t it almost 2020? @hallmarkchannel, @billabbottHC… what are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears.”

The LGBT+ advocacy group GLAAD also weighed in on the dispute, calling the decision to remove the adverts “discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming”.

Meanwhile, a Saturday Night Live skit on NBC with Scarlett Johansson poked fun at the controversy.

“The true reason for Christmas is husband,” said Aidy Bryant as host of a mock dating show.

“I’m Emily Kringle for Hallmark, reminding you to stay straight out there.”

Following Hallmarks’s turnaround, the network has said it will be working with GLAAD to help “better represent the LGBT+ community” across its portfolio of brands.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, also released a statement following the network’s apology, stating that Hallmark’s decision to correct its mistake signalled a “major loss for fringe organisations whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine”.

“LGBTQ people are, and will continue to be a part of advertisements and family programming and that will never change,” Ellis said.

“GLAAD exists to hold brands like The Hallmark Channel accountable when they make discriminatory decisions and to proactively ensure families of all kinds are represented in fair and accurate ways.”

The Independent has contacted Zola and The Hallmark Channel for comment.

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