The Hallmark Channel said Sunday that it would "re-establish" its relationship with the wedding company behind a same-sex commercial, just days after Hallmark pulled the ad amid pressure from a conservative advocacy group.
In a statement Sunday, the president of Hallmark Cards, Mike Perry, said Hallmark's parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, had been "agonizing" over its decision to remove the ad and the "hurt it has unintentionally caused."
Hallmark added that it would work with an LGBTQ advocacy group, GLAAD, to "better represent ... the community" while working to reinstate the commercials.
After Hallmark's reversal, GLAAD's president, Sarah Kate Ellis, said the company's decision sent an important message to LGBTQ people and signaled a "major loss" for "fringe organizations" that aim to "hurt families like mine."
The announcement Sunday came after Zola, a popular online wedding planning company, said it would no longer advertise with Hallmark after the channel refused to air commercials that included same-sex couples. Mike Chi, Zola's chief marketing officer, said in a statement that "all kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love."
Before Hallmark reversed course, Chi had said: "The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials that did not meet Hallmark's standards included a lesbian couple kissing. Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed."
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The Zola ad was mentioned in a blog post by One Million Moms, which bills itself as a group of parents who are working to stop the "exploitation of children" by entertainment media. The group claimed in the post that the channel had a history of "family friendly" content but that "parents can no longer trust Hallmark."
"Shame on Hallmark for airing commercials with same-sex couples and even considering movies with LGBT content and lead characters," One Million Moms said.
Hallmark was the target of petitions from One Million Moms and LifeSiteNews, a right-wing Catholic news organization. The LifeSiteNews petition said: "Hallmark would be offending Christian viewers and Christian parents BIG TIME, by experimenting with homosexual themes, and, or cooperating with the LGBT indoctrination agenda."
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The initial decision to pull the ads was criticized on social media. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted: "Isn't it almost 2020? @hallmarkchannel, @billabbottHC... what are you thinking? Please explain. We're all ears."
"@billabbottHC" is Bill Abbott, chief executive of Crown Media Family Networks.
Netflix also weighed in by posting screenshots of content on its streaming service that includes two women kissing.
"Titles Featuring Lesbians Joyfully Existing And Also It's Christmas Can We Just Let People Love Who They Love," Netflix tweeted.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last month, Abbott said the network was open to "any type of movie of any type of relationship in any space."
Michelle Vicary, Crown Media's executive vice president, echoed Abbott in a statement to The Wrap.
"We are continuing to expand our diversity," Vicary said. "We are looking at pitches for LGBTQ movies … and we are looking to expand and represent the United States as a whole."
Of Hallmark's 40 original holiday-themed movies this season, none include an LGBTQ main character, The Wrap reported.
NBC News' parent company, NBCUniversal, and Comcast Ventures are investors in Zola.