Respect Diversity + Inclusion

An LGBTQ Hallmark Christmas story?

a couple under the christmas tree

Story at a glance

  • A kiss between a lesbian couple on an ad aired on the Hallmark Channel was criticized by conservative groups.
  • The CEO of Hallmark’s parent company said he was open to including LGBTQ relationships in their holiday movies.
  • Two online petitions asking Hallmark not to air any LGBTQ content have gathered thousands of responses.

‘Tis the season for Hallmark movies, thick blankets and hot chocolate garnished with a dash of outrage.

In this case, it’s over an ad for Zola, an online wedding planner and retailer, featuring a lesbian couple getting married. Oh, and they kiss at the end. 

Backlash was inevitable. One Million Moms, created by the Protestant American Family Association, started a petition asking Hallmark not to run any movies or commercials featuring LGBTQ people. 

“Shame on Hallmark for airing commercials with same-sex couples and even considering movies with LGBT content and lead characters,” the website said in a statement

Recently, the Hollywood Reporter asked Bill Abbott, CEO of Hallmark parent Crown Media Family Networks, whether he would consider storylines with same-sex couples. 

“We’re open to really any type of movie of any type of relationship,” Abbott replied on the Hollywood Reporter’s podcast “TV’s Top 5” in November. 

The remarks came amid a discussion about the lack of diversity in Hallmark’s holiday movie lineup. Four out of 24 Hallmark original movies this year have black leads, down from 5 out of 21 last year, according to the Hollywood Reporter.  

In response to Abbott’s comments, Lifesite, founded by the socially conservative Campaign Life Coalition, has started their own petition. By the morning of Dec.12, more than 21,000 people had responded to the One Million Moms petition, and more than 41,000 had responded to the LifeSite petition. 

Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of Crown Media Family Networks, said in a statement to The Wrap that the channel is actively looking for more diverse content. 

“We are continuing to expand our diversity,” Vicary said. “We are looking at pitches for LGBTQ movies…and we are looking to expand and represent the United States as a whole.”

The company has not responded publicly to the petitions. 

LGBTQ representation on screen and in television has been increasing in recent years. In 2019, 10 percent of regular characters on broadcast scripted primetime programming were LGBTQ, according to GLAAD’s 2019 “Where We Are on TV Report,” the highest the report has ever recorded.