The Hallmark Channel said Sunday it would reverse course and air ads featuring same-sex couples kissing at their weddings amid a public outcry after the network pulled the clips from its airwaves this weekend.
“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are,” Mike Perry, the CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc., said in a statement provided to HuffPost. “We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
The company drew fierce criticism after The New York Times reported it pulled four ads by the wedding planning website Zola that featured two brides kissing each other. At the time, Hallmark said they were “deemed controversial” and that the ads violated the channel’s policies. The decision came shortly after the conservative group One Million Moms — a division of the American Family Association — complained about the ads, saying the Hallmark Channel was supposed to be “family-friendly” but had been “ruined” with the commercials.
The phrase “Boycott Hallmark” began trending on Twitter, and Zola pointed out that the only reason the ads seemed to be pulled centered on their inclusion of a same-sex couple.
“Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed,” Michael Chi, Zola’s chief marketing officer, told the Times. “All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark.”
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a frontrunner in the 2020 race for the White House, also chastised the company over its decision, saying: “Families are built on love — no matter what they look like.”
“Being ‘family-friendly’ means honoring love, not censoring difference,” the mayor, who is openly gay and married to his husband, wrote on Twitter. “This truth will be more important than ever as we rebuild our nation into a place defined by belonging, not by exclusion.”
The Hallmark Channel said Sunday it would work with GLAAD “to better represent the LGBTQ community” going forward, and that it would reach out to Zola to reestablish its partnership with the company and reinstate the commercials.
The move drew immediate praise from civil rights groups. Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of GLAAD, said the company “made the right choice” by reversing its decision, but noted the organization would keep an eye on the company going forward.
“[GLAAD] will be watching to make sure they’re inclusive of LGBTQ families in the future,” Ellis wrote on Twitter. “Thank you to everyone who spoke out.”