Hallmark Reverses Stance on LGBTQ Zola Ads Under Pressure, Looks to Reinstate Them

“It is never Hallmark’s intention to be divisive or generate controversy,” company CEO says in a statement

Last Updated: December 15, 2019 @ 6:59 PM

The Hallmark Channel is apologizing and reversing course after it had pulled four commercials for the wedding planning website Zola that featured a same-sex couple kissing during their marriage ceremony, saying Sunday night that it hopes to reinstate the ads.

Hallmark CEO Mike Perry said in a statement:

“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. 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.

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. We have been a progressive pioneer on television for decades – telling wide ranging stories that elevate the human spirit such as August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Colm Tóibín’s The Blackwater Lightship, both of which highlight the importance of tolerance and understanding.

Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials. 

Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences.”

GLAAD’s reaction to the news was swift.

“Victory!” GLAAD’s president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, said in a statement. “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. 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.”

Hallmark Channel had pulled four of six commercials for the wedding planning website that feature a lesbian couple celebrating their nuptials with a kiss after the conservative group One Million Moms called for a boycott of the network. The two women’s “public displays of affection” violates the channel’s policies, a spokesperson for Hallmark told The New York Times. An account representative at Hallmark’s parent company, Crown Media, also told the NYT that the channel did not accept ads “that are deemed controversial.”

In response, a representative for Zola said in a statement Saturday that it would pull all of its advertising from the Hallmark Channel “for the foreseeable future,” saying, “We stand behind this commercial 150%. We want all couples to feel welcomed and celebrated and we will always feature all kinds of love in our marketing.”

You can see one of the four ads by clicking here.

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