NEW YORK (AP) — Under pressure from a conservative advocacy group, The Hallmark Channel has pulled ads for a wedding-planning website that featured same-sex couples, including two brides kissing.
The family-friendly network, which is in the midst of its heavily watched holiday programming, removed the ads because the controversy was a distraction, a spokesperson said in an interview on Saturday.
"The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value," said a statement provided by Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark.
In an interview, she added: "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."
Biwer confirmed that a conservative group, One Million Moms, part of the American Family Association, had spoken to Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media, Hallmark's parent company.
A post on the group's website reported that Abbott "reported the advertisement aired in error."
The group also wrote: "The call to our office gave us the opportunity to confirm the Hallmark Channel will continue to be a safe and family-friendly network."
Zola had submitted six ads and four had same-sex couples. After Hallmark pulled those ads, but not two featuring only opposite-sex couples, Zola pulled its remaining ads, Biwer confirmed. A spokesperson for Zola could not immediately be reached.
In one of the pulled ads, featured on the website of The Advocate, the publication focusing on LGBTQ news, two brides stand at the altar and wonder aloud whether their wedding would be going more smoothly if they had used a wedding planning site like Zola. The lighthearted ad ends with the two brides engaging in a quick kiss on the altar.
The developments came as Hallmark appeared to be considering more same-sex themed content.
Asked about the possibility of same-sex themed holiday movies, Abbott was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter in mid-November as saying on its TV podcast: "We're open to really any type of movie of any type of relationship."