After launching a petition against the Hallmark Channel for airing inclusive commercials featuring gay couples kissing and celebrating marriage, anti-LGBTQ group One Million Moms has, in turn, made those same-sex wedding ads go viral. Over the weekend, the Hallmark Channel had removed advertisements from wedding planning website Zola after receiving complaints from the conservative group. The network has since apologized and reversed its initial decision to pull the ads following heated backlash on social media. Because it's 2019 and, it should go without saying, same-sex marriage is something to celebrate.
The decision to pull the ads was initially made by Hallmark parent company Crown Point Media, according to CNN, after reportedly receiving complaints from viewers and advertisers. When Hallmark initially pulled the commercials last Thursday, it was after One Million Moms posted a public statement about it. "The Hallmark Channel has always been known for its family friendly movies," it read. "Even its commercials are usually safe for family viewing. But unfortunately, that is not the case anymore.”
On Sunday, Hallmark president and CEO Mike Perry admitted in a statement that the decision to pull the ads was "wrong," and offered a public apology. "The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision," Perry said. "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."
Following the Hallmark Channel's apology, One Million Moms — a controversial group that protests LGBTQ rights and is a division of the American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a "hate group" — has once again decided to boycott the Hallmark Channel. And they've made the Zola same-sex commercials go viral.
Since the commercial was initially taken off the air earlier this month, it has been shared on social media and viewed on YouTube more than 580,000 times.
Several heavy hitters spoke out against Hallmark's decision, including Ellen DeGeneres, GLAAD, and Netflix, as well as outraged social media users across the platform. The commercial started to trend after it had been taken down, and some Twitter users couldn't help pointing out that it might not have gone viral if One Million Moms hadn't called attention to it.
"The one angry Christian mom at One Million Moms made a commercial with a same-sex wedding go viral while getting everyone to trash Hallmark," Hemant Mehta wrote on Twitter. "Where do I send the thank you card?"
In a statement regarding Hallmark's reinstatement of Zola's ad, One Million Moms went full Old Testament. "The culture war, better yet the war for the soul of man, is definitely heating up," the statement read. "1MM will keep fighting because souls are at stake. This LGBTQ spirit is the same spirit we read about in the Bible that confronted Lot. It's relentless but the good news is we serve the God who is King of kings, Lord of lords, and will not be mocked. Hallmark, Zola, etc. and all that make up those companies will ALL bow to the Lord."
Fortunately, despite the best efforts of One Million Moms to boycott Hallmark (less than 30,000 people have signed a petition asking the channel not to "cave to the LGBTA agenda," so not exactly 1 million, I guess), the commercial will continue to air. And Rich Ferraro, chief communications officer for GLAAD, the LGBTQ media rights organization, told Salon this is an important step in the right direction.
"Most brands know to ignore the One Million Moms — or the 'One Meddling Anti-Gay Mom,' as we call them," Ferraro told Salon. "And the Hallmark Channel’s reversal sets a true precedent that this fringe project of the AFA should not to be taken seriously or given any credibility by brands or the media."
While Hallmark might be ready to do an about-face on Zola's commercial, that doesn't mean the company is ready to air them on the network again. As of Monday, Zola CMO Mike Chi told Fast Company that the wedding planning site had pulled all of its ads from Hallmark and wasn't sure if it would return.
"For us to air on the Hallmark channel, we’d have to have assurances that both our ads and other advertisers’ content wasn’t being censored, and they weren’t trying to narrow the representation of what they’re showing on their commercials," Chi told Fast Company. "I think it would take more than a ‘Hey, we’re just going to run these four ads because we got in trouble’ for us to go back on the platform."
Everyone deserves to see themselves represented and celebrated in media, like Zola's ads have accomplished with its lovely ads. While it's shame this whole debacle happened in the first place, Hallmark said it "will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands." Who knows, hopefully that means Hallmark's next Christmas movie or romcom will feature an LGBTQ lead. Then all would be right with the world.