Hallmark Channel is taking back its decision to remove a same-sex wedding ad. Following extensive online backlash after the network pulled a TV ad featuring a lesbian couple getting married on TV, the company has decided to reinstate the advertisement and apologize for the major misstep in judgement.
Mike Perry, the CEO of Hallmark, apologized for the controversy in a Hallmark press release, saying that “The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused.”
“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives,” Perry said. He went on to state that Hallmark is committed to diversity and inclusion. “It is never Hallmark’s intention to be divisive or generate controversy.”
Perry also announced a partnership with GLAAD in an effort “to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands.”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis celebrated the reinstating of the ad, which was for wedding planning website Zola. On Sunday, Ellis noted in her own statement that Hallmark made the right choice by reinstating the ad. “[This] sends an important message to LGBTQ people and represents a major loss for fringe organizations, like One Million Moms, whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine,” Ellis said.
While the decision to reinstate the ads might be a step in the right direction, backlash over the removal of Zola’s same-sex wedding ad was immense. Hallmark initially ran six ads for Zola beginning on December 2 and pulled only the spot featuring the same-sex wedding ceremony and kiss from rotation ten days later. This happened after conservative group One Million Moms voiced "concern" that the ad was not "family friendly."
#BoycottHallmark began trending soon after the company’s decision came to light, and social media accounts like Netflix, arguably Hallmark’s most high-profile rivals in the Christmas movie realm, began to tout their inclusive practices.
And, this isn’t really the only misstep in representation for the tv-movie giant — Hallmark was recently the subject of criticism for their “Hannukah” movies, which mostly veered from any actual practices within the religion.
Still, Hallmark owning up to poor decision making is a necessity from both a moral and a business standpoint. “We will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences,” Perry said.
Ellis and GLAAD, who were outspoken during the removal of these ads, stands firm on the company’s effort, too, stating that representation is vital for the LGBTQ community. “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.”