The ad is for Zola.com, a wedding planning and registry company, and shows two women exchanging vows and later kissing to celebrate their nuptials. It was one of six commercials for the website that Hallmark began airing on December 2.
Conservative group One Million Moms took aim at Hallmark for airing the ad, which it said was not “family friendly.” The group launched a petition earlier this week, pressing the cable network to pull the commercial and other LGBTQ content.
“Recently, One Million Moms received concerns about Hallmark airing a commercial from Zola.com in which two lesbians are shown kissing at the end of their wedding ceremony,” the group said on its website. “Parents need to know they could now come face-to-face with the LGBT agenda when they sit down to watch the Hallmark Channel.”
Hallmark bowed to the group’s complaints and stopped airing the ad, saying it violated the cable network’s policies. In a statement issued to the New York Times, a spokesperson for Hallmark insisted the public display of affection violated the cable channel’s standards.
“The decision not to air overt public displays of affection in our sponsored advertisement, regardless of the participants, is in line with our current policy, which includes not featuring political advertisements, offensive language, R-rated movie content and many other categories,” the spokesperson said.
Critics counter another Zola advertisement featuring a heterosexual couple showing affection was not rejected.
Meanwhile, Zola stated that its same-sex commercial was intended to be inclusive, and the company vowed to continue to feature “all kinds” of couples in its advertising.
“We stand behind this commercial 150%,” Zola said in a statement. “We want all couples to feel welcomed and celebrated and we will always feature all kinds of love in our marketing.”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called Hallmark’s decision “discriminatory” and “hypocritical” in a statement Saturday.
“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 and also recently stated they are ‘open’ to LGBTQ holiday movies,” Ellis said. “As so many other TV and cable networks showcase, LGBTQ families are part of family programming. Advertisers on The Hallmark Channel should see this news and question whether they want to be associated with a network that chooses to bow to fringe anti-LGBTQ activist groups, which solely exist to harm LGBTQ families.”
The controversy appeared to be gaining momentum as the hashtag #BoycottHallmark trended on Twitter Saturday evening.
Among those calling for a boycott of the channel was Andy Lassner, executive producer of Ellen.
“I stand with all my #LGBTQ brothers and sisters today and always. Silence is complicity. #boycotthallmark,” Lassner tweeted.
Alphonso David, president of LGBTQ rights organization Human Rights Campaign, said Hallmark’s decision is “shameful.”
“This is deeply disappointing,” David tweeted. “@hallmarkchannel has bowed to anti-family activists who seek to erase our community. For a channel whose brand is love, Hallmark is leading with fear and discrimination. Shameful.”
The back-and-forth comes as fans flock to Hallmark for its slate of holiday programming. Among the movies airing on the network this holiday season is Holiday Date featuring Brittany Bristow and Matt Cohen, which premieres tonight.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.