The Hallmark Channel recently pulled four advertisements for wedding planning company Zola that depicted gay or lesbian weddings. The flak was instantaneous and overwhelming, as you might imagine, and Hallmark has since issued an official apology.
As the Hollywood Reporter reports, the initial decision to yank the ads was a response to petitions from “conservative” anti-gay organizations that objected to the channel showing movies or commercials featuring gay themes—because it’s 1952, or we’re living in Saudi Arabia, or something. One of the groups, One Million Moms, addressed Hallmark in the following terms:
“Please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples, and please do not add LGBT movies to the Hallmark Channel. Such content goes against Christian and conservative values that are important to your primary audience. You will lose viewers if you cave to the LBGT agenda.”
As it happens, Hallmark caved to the anti-LGBT agenda, and paid an immediate price.
That Hallmark thought they could blatantly censor gay content and get away with it in this day and age is pretty astonishing. Have they heard of Twitter? Either way, Hallmark CEO Mike Perry says the company has learned its lesson. An official statement was posted on the corporate website over the weekend. Here it is in full:
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 from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.” said Mike Perry, President and CEO, Hallmark Cards, Inc.
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.” Perry said.
With all that out of the way, one question stands: who in God’s name watches the Hallmark Channel???