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Hallmark under fire for blocking same-sex kiss adverts

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Hallmark said it had removed the ads because the controversy was a distraction. Stock Image

Hallmark said it had removed the ads because the controversy was a distraction. Stock Image

Hallmark said it had removed the ads because the controversy was a distraction. Stock Image

The Hallmark TV channel has come under fire for removing ads for a wedding-planning website that featured two brides kissing at the altar, following a complaint from a conservative advocacy group.

The hashtag #BoycottHallmark was trending at one point on Twitter, and celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and William Shatner attacked the decision. "Put the commercials back!" Shatner wrote. DeGeneres asked: "Isn't it almost 2020?"

LGBT advocacy group Glaad called the decision to remove the ads by Zola "discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming and also recently stated they are 'open' to LGBTQ holiday movies."

The group said it would be asking other Hallmark advertisers where they stand on the issue, and whether they now will pull their advertising.

Zola has said it won't advertise on the channel.

Hallmark said it had removed the ads because the controversy was a distraction.

"The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value," said Molly Biwer, senior vice-president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark.

"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 ... we just felt it was in the best interest of the brand to pull them and not continue to generate controversy."

Zola had submitted six ads, and four included a lesbian couple. After Hallmark pulled those ads, but not two featuring only opposite-sex couples, Zola pulled its remaining ads, the company said.

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