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Hallmark reverses ban on lesbian wedding ad & apologizes to LGBTQ customers

The same-sex couple featured in a promotional ad for Zola.com pulled by Hallmark Channel.
The same-sex couple featured in a promotional ad for Zola.com pulled by Hallmark Channel.Photo: Screenshot via YouTube

The Hallmark Channel has taken a beating over LGBTQ issues over the past week. In a remarkable turn of events, the cable station has managed to exhilarate and antagonize both sides of the political debate.

At least for now, it seems that LGBTQ activists have won the battle over a wedding website’s commercial.

Related: Hallmark has a greeting card for transitioning

The cable station outraged the religious right after saying they would “be open” to making holiday movies with queer storylines. But when an ad for the wedding planning site Zola showed two lesbians smooching, the outrage machine kicked into high gear.

The series of ads for Zola features several couples pondering how their wedding day would be different if they had used the website to publish their details for guests. Most of the six ads in the series focus on straight newlyweds, but also include scenes from the ad that focuses on two women getting married.

After a flood of bad publicity led by the far right, the station decided to yank the offending commercial, saying that their terms of service require them to reject ads “that are deemed controversial.” Zola told the media Hallmark Channel had rejected four spots in the series, but not the versions that showed only heterosexual couples. Similar advertisements for other companies were not removed either.

That did not, of course, sit well with LGBTQ customers. After progressives launched their own campaign to castigate the channel for their hamfisted response to the conservative controversy, the company has reversed course and will now air the ads again.

Crown Media Family Networks is the parent company of the Hallmark Channel. President and CEO, Mike Perry, told CNN Business that Hallmark made the “wrong decision” and would reinstate the advertisements.

“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,” Perry said in a statement.

“After thousands of voices expressed their outrage over Hallmark’s decision, the company did the right thing by reversing this decision,” Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in an emailed statement. “Now, Hallmark is on the right path forward.”

GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, added, “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.”

One Million Moms is an astroturf offshoot of the American Family Association, an organization that’s been classified as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. It does not have a million members.

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