After a day of controversy, Hallmark Channel is reversing its decision to remove ads that featured a same-sex wedding, and its parent company’s CEO has apologized.
Calling the choice to remove the ads “the wrong decision,” Hallmark Cards president and CEO Mike Perry said in a statement on Sunday that “we are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.” Insisting that Hallmark “is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion,” Perry added that “Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGTBQ population across our portfolio of brands,” and that Hallmark Channel “will be reaching out to” wedding-planning website Zola, whose ads were pulled, “to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”
GLAAD hailed the reversal in a statement from president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis: “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 ads, which featured a lesbian couple kissing during a same-sex wedding, were pulled after a protest from conservative groups including One Million Moms and Lifesite, which had created an online petition that had collected more than 44,000 signatures. Hallmark continued to air ads from Zola that only featured heterosexual couples, but Zola later pulled all of its ads from the network, saying: “All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love, and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark.”
Hallmark’s decision to remove the ads set off a firestorm of controversy, with former Hallmark movie stars Hilarie Burton and Bridget Regan denouncing the decision, along with other celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski.