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The Hallmark channel is at the center of a controversy for removing an ad featuring a lesbian couple that previously aired on the network.
The decision came after conservative group One Million Moms and website LifeSiteNews circulated petitions demanding the removal of the ad and for the network to refrain from introducing LGBTQ characters into its films, warning that they would boycott the network.
“Hallmark would be offending Christian viewers and Christian parents big time, by experimenting with homosexual themes, and, or cooperating with LGBT indoctrination agenda,” LifeSiteNews’ petition reads. “By doing so, Hallmark would risk losing a big part of their market–because people just couldn’t be sure of what to expect.”
The One Million Moms’ petition echoed similar sentiments, arguing that Hallmark should remain “family-friendly” and should not be “politically correct by forcing tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, a sinful lifestyle that scripture clearly deems as wrong.”
In response to the conservative backlash, Hallmark made the decision to pull an ad featuring a lesbian couple by Zola, a company that offers wedding services and online registries.
In the ad, the two women are standing at the altar when they start a conversation about whether their wedding would’ve gone more smoothly had they used Zola’s services. The brides eventually kiss and agree their big day would’ve been better with the company’s help. After Zola became aware of the news that Hallmark cut the ad, the company decided to pull all of its advertising “for the foreseeable future,” according to Variety.
In a statement to the New York Times, Hallmark blamed the couple’s PDA for its choice to pull the ad, arguing it violated the network’s policies. However, many noted that a similar ad featuring a heterosexual couple wasn’t censored.
Many expressed outrage and disappointment on Twitter over Hallmark’s decision to cave to conservative pressure.
“This is the lovely ad that Hallmark channel pulled from their broadcast after conservatives complained. A simple kiss by lesbian newlyweds. Same-sex marriage has been the law of the land for four years. LGBTQ families are beautiful,” tweeted Charlotte Clymer, a staff member at the Human Rights Campaign.
This is the lovely ad that @HallmarkChannel pulled from their broadcast after conservatives complained. A simple kiss by lesbian newlyweds. Same-sex marriage has been the law of the land for four years. LGBTQ families are beautiful.#BoycottHallmark pic.twitter.com/4UFDiebBVi— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) December 14, 2019
GLAAD, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights, also tweeted about the controversy.
“The Hallmark Channel’s decision to remove LGBTQ families in such a blatant way is discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement.
"The Hallmark Channel’s decision to remove LGBTQ families in such a blatant way is discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming” @sarahkateellis #BoycottHallmark https://t.co/P0v03xfAe4— GLAAD (@glaad) December 15, 2019
Others shared their thoughts with the trending hashtag #BoycottHallmark.
“I married my husband in 2009, and we raised 5 children together. The Hallmark channel’s decision to cave to pressure from homophobes is very sad. Until they affirm the equality of LGBTQ families, we will #BoycottHallmark. Love makes a family,” Jon Cooper, chairman of the Democratic Coalition, tweeted.
I married my husband in 2009, and we raised 5 children together. The @hallmarkchannel’s decision to cave to pressure from homophobes is very sad. Until they affirm the equality of LGBTQ families, we will #BoycottHallmark. LOVE MAKES A FAMILY. ❤️ https://t.co/IYmEQiF39Q— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) December 15, 2019
#BoycottHallmark because the company caved to a Conservative group by refusing to screen a kiss between two women getting married. Behind this decision is tacit agreement about unequal rights in 2019. Too bad, Hallmark used to have some integrity behind its mark.— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) December 15, 2019
In response to Hallmark’s decision to pull the ad, Walt Disney Television’s Freeform channel stepped up to offer Zola’s advertising a new home.
“This is what happens when you focus all your energy on exclusion instead of clever plotlines. Call us, Zola. We celebrate the holidays with everyone,” the channel tweeted.
So far it is unclear where Zola will host its family-friendly advertisements.
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Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.