After a weekend of criticism on social media, Hallmark Channel reversed its decision to pull a commercial featuring a same-sex couple getting married and hopes to reinstate it. The surprising about-face came two days after One Million Moms claimed victory when Hallmark told the conservative group it would not air the Zola.com commercial again. In a statement Sunday night, Hallmark called dropping the ad the "wrong decision."
"The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused," Hallmark Cards Inc. President and CEO Mike Perry said in a statement to PEOPLE Sunday night. "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," Perry continued. "Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused."
Earlier this month, Hallmark aired a commercial for Zola.com, a wedding planning website, that featured a same-sex couple getting married. At the end of the commercial, the two women kiss.
One Million Moms, a division of the conservative group American Family Association, published a petition demanding Hallmark pull the ad and "reject" pressure to include stories with LGBTQ characters in future programming. Just over 2,700 people signed the petition, which One Million Moms later claimed was successful after Crown Media Family Networks CEO Bill Abbott said the ad "aired in error" and it would not air again.
"The call to our office gave us the opportunity to also confirm the Hallmark Channel will continue to be a safe and family friendly network," One Million Moms claimed. "Praise the Lord!"
However, the backlash for removing the ad proved just as loud, even attracting celebrities to call out Hallmark.
"Isn’t it almost 2020?" Ellen DeGeneres tweeted. "[Hallmark Channel], [Bill Abbott]… what are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears."
Zola Chief Marketing Officer Mike Chi also announced the company would stop advertising on the network.
"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," Chi told The New York Times. "Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed. All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark."
Hallmark will reach out to Zola to "re-establish out partnership and reinstate the commercials," the company said. It also vowed to work with GLAAD to "better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands."
"Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences," Perry said.
Hallmark's decision to reverse course "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 CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said.
Photo credit: Zola.com