Hallmark Channel Will "Reinstate" Same-Sex Marriage Ad After Receiving Backlash

Hallmark Channel is facing backlash after pulling an ad from the wedding planning company, Zola, which featured a same-sex couple

By Alyssa Morin Dec 16, 2019 3:51 AMTags

UPDATE: The Hallmark Channel plans to make things right, after receiving backlash for pulling an ad featuring a same-sex couple.

Mike Perry, the CEO of Hallmark, released a lengthy statement about the company's decision and how they are going to be better moving forward.

"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," Perry stated.

"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 for this purpose is not who we are. As the CEO of Hallmark, I am sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused."

Additionally, GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis shared a statement over the news. 

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"The Hallmark Channel's decision to correct its mistake 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. LGBTQ people are, and will continue to be a part of advertisements and family programming and that will never change," the statement read.

"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."

Perry also explained that Hallmark will work with GLAAD to "better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands."  Moreover, he revealed that "The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials."

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The Hallmark Channel is catching heat this holiday season.

It's a known fact that as soon as December rolls around, it's the Hallmark Channel's time to shine. However, many feel the network isn't spreading that holiday cheer after they pulled an ad from Zola, a wedding planning company, that featured a same-sex couple.

For the commercial series, Zola released six ads that highlighted several couples who are at the alter wondering if their wedding would've been better with the help of the lifestyle site. Pretty harmless, right?

According to The New York Times, who first broke the news, Hallmark Channel's parent company stated the Zola commercial featuring a lesbian couple was "deemed controversial." Additionally, the parent company also said that story line violated the channel's polices due to the same-sex couple's "public displays of affection."

The publication reported that when asked why a similar story line featuring a typical bride and groom kissing wasn't flagged, the parent company declined to comment.

Mike Chi, Zola's Chief Marketing Officer, told E! News that the only commercial Hallmark Channel had an issue with was the one of the lesbian couple kissing.

"The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials that did not meet Hallmark's standards included a lesbian couple kissing," Chi said in a statement. "Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed. All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark."

Chi continued, "We are proud of this campaign and have received an outpouring of support from people of all ages, backgrounds, orientations and faiths. We remain committed to helping all couples plan their weddings, no matter who they love. Everyone is welcome at Zola."

After this news spread like wildfire, many people were outraged to hear about Hallmark Channel's decision.

"Isn't it almost 2020?," Ellen DeGeneres wrote on Twitter. "@hallmarkchannel, @billabbottHC... what are you thinking? Please explain. We're all ears."

GLAAD shared, "Add your name to join the boycott of @hallmarkchannel until it reverses course and includes all families on the network."

"A war on love is an actual war on Christmas, and everything Christ stood for," Emily Andras wrote. "No more Hallmark in my house unless this bigoted policy is reversed."

Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski also chimed in on the conversation. "Love is l...," he shared. "oh wait not at @hallmarkchannel apparently."

If you love the Hallmark holiday movies but don't want to support their sh--ty anti-LGBT network, check out the Lifetime/Netflix offerings! They've really upped their game this year AND they don't pretend gay people don't exist," Danny Pellegrino said. "@hallmarkchannel."

Additionally, Hilarie Burton Morgan revealed that she had told the network to include diverse couples and people in their movies when she was offered a project. However, she claims they decided to part ways with her. 

"Just going through some old emails from a #Hallmark job I was "let go" from back in January. I had insisted on a LGBTQ character, an interracial couple and diverse casting," the One Tree Hill alum shared. "I was polite, direct and professional."

She added, "But after the execs gave their notes on the script and NONE of my requests were honored, I was told "take it or leave it". I left it. And the paycheck. S---ty being penalized for standing up for inclusivity. I really wanted that job. It was close to my house. It paid really well. It was about the military, which you all know I hold dear."

The actress said she would do it again in a "heartbeat" if she was asked to put money over her morals.

Moreover, her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan put in his own two cents.

"One, I do love you in an elf costume" responded to his wife's tweets. "Two, and most importantly... @Hallmark and @hallmarkchannel?? Gross. No other words needed. #loveislove."

This isn't the first time the Hallmark Channel has been called out for its lack of inclusion. Just last month, The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Bill Abbott, the CEO of Hallmark's parent company, Crown Media Family Network, to discuss the network's diversity issue.

"I think that generalization isn't fair either, that we just have Christmas with white leads," he said. "In terms of broadening out the demographic, it's something we're always thinking about, always considering and we'll continue to make the movies where the best scripts are delivered to us and what we think have the most potential."

Zola's commercials first appeared on the Hallmark Channel on Dec. 2.

E! News has reached out to the network for comment.

(This article was originally published on Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 5:11 p.m. PST.)