Hallmark Channel pulled ads that featured a lesbian couple’s wedding after receiving heat from a conservative advocacy group.
The network announced Saturday that it was removing the ads for wedding-planning site Zola, saying the controversy had become a distraction.
“The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value,” the network said in a statement.
The conservative group, One Million Moms, complained to Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, which is Hallmark’s parent company, after the network aired advertisements featuring the same-sex couple sharing a kiss at the altar.
Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark, said in an interview that the network didn’t want to “generate controversy.”
“The Hallmark brand is never going to be divisive. We don’t want to generate controversy, we’ve tried very hard to stay out of it,” Biwer told the Associated Press. “We just felt it was in the best interest of the brand to pull them and not continue to generate controversy.”
Zola submitted several ads to the Hallmark, which is currently in the midst of its highly-viewed holiday programming, but the network only pulled ones featuring the lesbian couple.
“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,” said Mike Chi, Zola’s chief marketing officer, in a statement. ”Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed.”
The wedding-planning site said it will no longer be advertising on the channel.
“All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark,” Chi said.
The network’s decision to remove the ads was met by criticism, including from Ellen DeGeneres.
“Isn’t it almost 2020? @hallmarkchannel, @billabbottHC… what are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears.” DeGeneres wrote on Twitter.