The Hallmark Channel on Sunday moved to reinstate ads featuring a same-sex couple that had been removed from the cable network. The decision came after considerable backlash over the initial decision to stop airing the ads from the wedding-planning company Zola.
"The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we've seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused," Hallmark CEO Mike Perry said in a statement Sunday night. "Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision."
"Hallmark will be working with GLAAD [Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation] to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands," the statement continued. "The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials."
Perry also used the statement to apologize, saying, "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."
It's unclear whether Zola will continue airing ads on the The Hallmark Channel, but they noted they are "relieved" by these recent updates.
"We were deeply troubled when Hallmark rejected our commercials for featuring a lesbian couple celebrating their marriage, and are relieved to see that decision was reversed," Zola chief marketing officer Mike Chi said in an earlier statement Sunday. "We are humbled by everyone who showed support not only for Zola, but for all the LGBTQ couples and families who express their love on their wedding day, and every day."
Late last week, The Hallmark Channel removed multiple Zola ads showing a same-sex couple. Zola had initially submitted six ads to be aired on the network, four of which featured a same-sex couple. The Hallmark Channel removed those four ads, but continued airing the two that only showed same-sex couples. Zola then decided to pull all their ads soon after.
The decision by The Hallmark Channel to pull the ads came following pressure from the conservative group One Million Moms. According to a Hallmark statement regarding the removal of the ads, the group — part of the American Family Association — complained to Bill Abbott, the CEO of Hallmark's parent company Crown Media Family Networks.
One Million Moms claimed on its website that Abbott said the ads "aired in error," and the groups' complaint "gave us the opportunity to confirm the Hallmark Channel will continue to be a safe and family-friendly network."
The decision was met with considerable backlash, including from TV host Ellen DeGeneres, who tweeted at The Hallmark Channel and Abbot, "What are you thinking? Please explain. We're all ears."
"The Hallmark Channel's decision to correct its mistake sends an important message to LGBTQ people and represents a major loss for fringe organizations, like One Million Moms, whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine," GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said following the release of Perry's statement. "LGBTQ people are, and will continue to be a part of advertisements and family programming and that will never change. GLAAD exists to hold brands like The Hallmark Channel accountable when they make discriminatory decisions and to proactively ensure families of all kinds are represented in fair and accurate ways."