Hallmark Channel faces backlash after it pulled ads featuring same-sex couples

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(CNN) — The Hallmark Channel is facing calls for viewers and advertisers to boycott its television channel and other areas of business after it pulled advertisements featuring same-sex couples from the air.

Earlier this week, Hallmark parent company Crown Media Family Networks removed ads from online wedding planning company Zola showing same-sex couples celebrating marriages.

Zola said in a statement that the ads pulled were among several similar commercials slated to run on Hallmark and that “the only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved” is that the flagged ads included a lesbian couple kissing. The company said a commercial featuring a heterosexual couple kissing was approved.

One of the ads in question features a lesbian couple at the altar on their wedding day discussing whether they should have used Zola to share details of their ceremony and registry with their guests.

Hallmark’s decision came after conservative group One Million Moms created a targeted campaign calling on the network to remove the ads and avoid airing other content showing same-sex couples.

The network said in a statement it decided to pull the commercials because the “debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”

Now, Hallmark is facing backlash from hundreds of users on social media over the decision.

“@Hallmarkchannel has bowed to anti-family activists who seek to erase our community,” LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said on Twitter. “For a channel whose brand is love, Hallmark is leading with fear and discrimination.”

Many are calling on viewers to stop watching the Hallmark Channel, which is in the thick of the holiday movie season. Some other TV and streaming brands even jumped into the conversation on Twitter to let viewers know they have other options.

“This is what happens when you focus all your energy on exclusion instead of clever plotlines. Call us, @Zola. We celebrate the holidays with everyone,” Freeform, a cable channel owned by Disney, tweeted Saturday.

Netflix also tweeted a not-so-subtle comment on the controversy, listing a few titles in its library that feature, “Lesbians Joyfully Existing And Also It’s Christmas Can We Just Let People Love Who They Love.”

Some also called for people to stop buying products owned by Hallmark, such as greeting cards and Crayola crayons.

Sleeping Giants, an online advocacy group that calls on companies to stop advertising with websites that peddle information, chimed in, too. The group posted a tweet asking Toyota if it will stop advertising on Hallmark.

Toyota did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For its part, Zola said it has removed the rest of its ads from Hallmark.

“All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark,” the company said in its statement.

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