Hallmark Channel may be known for festive Christmas movies, but the holiday season hasn’t been all garland and candy canes this year. The network came under fire for its decision to pull advertisements featuring a same-sex couple.
The controversy started after One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, started a petition to encourage the network to pull a Zola.com commercial that featured same-sex weddings. Hallmark announced their decision to stop airing the ad on Saturday, December 14, explaining in a statement that the ”debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”
It wasn’t long until viewers took to Twitter to criticize the network’s decision with the hashtag #BoycottHallmark. Ellen DeGeneres was among the celebrities to weigh in on the controversy, tweeting, “Isn’t it almost 2020? @hallmarkchannel @billabbottHC … what are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears.”
Hallmark subsequently apologized for the decision in a statement on Sunday, December 15.
“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. 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,” President and CEO Mark Perry said. “Hallmark is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion – both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create. It is never Hallmark’s intention to be divisive or generate controversy.”
The statement went on to say that the network “will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”
“We are an inclusive company and have a track record to prove it. We have LGBTQ greeting cards and feature LGBTQ couples in commercials,” the statement read. “Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. … Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences.”
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