The Hallmark Channel has reversed its decision not to air an ad featuring a newlywed lesbian couple kissing at the altar.
The ads promote the wedding registry company Zola and originally began airing on December 2. Shortly thereafter, Hallmark decided to pull the ads. Explaining its decision, Hallmark said that it was, “not allowed to accept creatives that are deemed controversial.”
In addition, a spokesperson for Hallmark originally defended the decision in a statement to the The New York Times. “The decision not to air overt public displays of affection in our sponsored advertisement, regardless of the participants, is in line with our current policy, which includes not featuring political advertisements, offensive language, R-rated movie content and many other categories.”
Crown Media Family Networks, the parent company of Hallmark, also said 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.”
These three points of defense, that the ads were controversial, too overtly affectionate and were distracting from the network’s purpose pointed to legitimate reasons to not air the ads.
This original decision not to air the ads was likely sparked by a petition organized by One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association. The petition reads, “Family entertainment is not the outlet in which to be politically correct by forcing tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality – a sinful lifestyle that Scripture clearly deems as wrong.” As of writing, over 30,000 people had signed the petition.
Yet, outrage from some LGBT activists put Hallmark in the hot seat.
As a result, Crown Media Family Network, the parent company of Hallmark, released a statement reversing their decision in which it backtracked, apologized and committed to working with Zola to air the ad.
“We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” the statement read. “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. We are an inclusive company and have a track record to prove it. We have LGBTQ greeting cards and feature LGBTQ couples in commercials. We have been recognized as one of the Human Rights Campaigns Best Places to Work, and as one of Forbes America’s Best Employers for Diversity.”
Hallmark also announced that it would be working with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to repair their supposed wrongdoings. “Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. Hallmark will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”
In a tweet, 2020 Democrat presidential contender Pete Buttigieg condemned Hallmark’s original decision to pull the ads. “Families are built on love—no matter what they look like. Being ‘family friendly’ means honoring love, not censoring difference. This truth will be more important than ever as we rebuild our nation into a place defined by belonging, not by exclusion.”
Of course, Zola isn’t the first company to make a political statement through its advertising, and it won’t be the last.
Earlier this year the shaving company Gillette created an ad featuring a young girl, taking testosterone hormone therapy, completing her first shave. And Walmart ran an ad of a same-sex couple going on blind date through their shopping isles.
LGBT issues are still divisive and confusion surrounding these topics can leave parents feeling ill-equipped to help their children navigate these areas. Focus on the Family provides many helpful resources for parents to handle these controversial issues with grace and truth.
You can follow this author on Twitter @MettlerZachary