Homophobia comes at a cost, and Hallmark Channel learned that lesson the hard way this weekend.
In an abrupt about-face, the network decided late Sunday night to reinstate ads for the wedding registry site Zola.com featuring same-sex couples during its programming slate. The reversal comes just days after Hallmark Channel and its parent company, Crown Media, sparked immense backlash by buckling under pressure from an anti-LGBTQ hate group and announcing it would pull the “controversial” ads.
That move prompted prominent LGBTQ advocacy groups like HRC and GLAAD, as well as a plethora of celebrities, to condemn Hallmark on social media.
Some even called for a boycott of the popular television network and its associated brands.
“Isn’t it almost 2020?” Ellen Show host Ellen DeGeneres wrote on Twitter, tagging Hallmark Channel and its CEO’s official handles. “What are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears.”
I’m an openly gay woman; I have a wife & twin 6 yr old boys.
Please reconsider this decision. https://t.co/dYvx8cOCtD
— Chely Wright (@chelywright) December 14, 2019
HRC even took the rare step of temporarily suspending Hallmark’s score on its annual Corporate Equality Index, which determines the degree of LGBTQ friendliness at major corporations. The group also launched a digital letter-writing campaign aimed at Hallmark, which garnered some 70,000 signatories before the company ultimately reversed its decision.
After thousands of voices expressed their outrage over Hallmark’s decision, the company did the right thing by reversing this decision. Now, Hallmark is on the right path forward.
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) December 16, 2019
As NewNowNext reported last week, anti-LGBTQ bigots from the American Family Association sub-group One Million Moms had launched a petition claiming the network’s attempts to promote queer inclusivity on the small screen were “forcing tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, a sinful lifestyle that scripture clearly deems as wrong.”
In a statement, Hallmark Cards CEO Mike Perry confessed that the Crown Media team had been “agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused.”
Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials. pic.twitter.com/p17nJpnjEB
— Hallmark (@Hallmark) December 16, 2019
“Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision,” Perry added. “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.”
Responding to Hallmark’s decision to reinstate the queer-inclusive ads, HRC president Alphonso David said the company is “on the right path forward”:
In conversations with the company on Saturday—and by mobilizing our grassroots army—HRC was able to voice our community’s outrage and garner nearly 70,000 signatures to let Hallmark know that LGBTQ people won’t be erased. Now, HRC looks forward to working with Hallmark to ensure that the company is one that lives into its values and pursues meaningful LGBTQ representation, both inside the workplace and in the content it creates.