The Hallmark Channel Reverses Course on Banned Ads Featuring Lesbian Couple

The Hallmark Channel Reverses Course on Banned Ads Featuring Lesbian Couple
This image made from undated video provided by Zola shows a scene of its advertisement. The Hallmark Channel says it will reinstate same-sex marriage commercials that it had pulled from the network. Hallmark Cards CEO Mike Perry said in a statement Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, that pulling the commercials “was the wrong decision." (Zola via AP)

After earlier pulling a series of advertisements that show a lesbian couple kissing, the Hallmark Channel announced it had reversed its decision and will now air the ads.

The controversial ads are for Zola, a wedding planning site, and feature two women getting married and kissing.

Zola had submitted six ads to the channel, four of which featured the lesbian couple. After those four were rejected, Zola pulled the other two.

One Million Moms, a conservative advocacy group, was initially successful in pressuring the network to remove the ads. The controversy occurs just weeks after the channel received criticism for the lack of racial and religious diversity in its programming.

Why did the Hallmark Channel reverse its decision?

After word of the ad ban reached social media, the Hallmark Channel faced an intense backlash online, with numerous celebrities and other prominent figures tweeting about the decision, including comedian Ellen DeGeneres and the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom.

In announcing the reversal, Hallmark Cards CEO Mike Perry released a statement saying their team had “agonized" over the decision and realized the original ban had led to some people being unintentionally hurt. He apologized for “the hurt and disappointment this has caused."

What is One Million Moms?

One Million Moms is a division of the American Family Association, an evangelical Christian advocacy group that was founded by Rev. Donald Wildmon in 1977.

According to their website, One Million Moms seeks “to stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.)." Their goal is to ensure “decision-makers" avoid promoting content that the group disagrees with.

The group has a long history of advocating against LGBTQ-related issues.

What has the group campaigned against in the past?

On their “Successes" page, One Million Moms (OMM) lists multiple television shows that the group campaigned against that have since lost advertisers or been cancelled. However, there is no evidence that all the shows listed were canceled as a direct result of the group’s advocacy.

The campaign against Hallmark is not the only one launched by the group that has failed. In 2012, OMM organized an ultimately unsuccessful boycott to get clothing retailer J.C. Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres, who hosts one of the highest rated talk shows in the U.S. and is openly gay.

Similarly, a petition chastising Disney for including a scene in 2019’s Toy Story 4 that features two mothers dropping their child off at school received fewer than 15,000 signatures. That entry in the popular Pixar series went on to gross over $1 billion at the box office.