A wedding planning website has refused to advertise on the Hallmark Channel again after it scrapped commercials featuring two brides kissing at the altar.
The network removed the adverts following a complaint by One Million Moms – a conservative group linked with the American Family Association.
Zola had submitted six adverts, four of which featured a lesbian couple.
After Hallmark axed those, but not the two featuring only opposite-sex couples, Zola pulled its remaining adverts.
“The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials that did not meet Hallmark’s standards included a lesbian couple kissing,” said Mike Chi, Zola’s chief marketing officer.
“All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark,” he said.
The decision was also met with anger by a number of US celebrities.
Ellen DeGeneres asked Hallmark: “Isn’t it almost 2020? What are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears.”
Actress Sandra Bernhard, who played one of the first openly bisexual characters on network TV in Roseanne also criticised Hallmark’s decision.
“All the groovy gay ladies i know won’t be watching your Christmas schlock,” she wrote on Twitter, addressing Hallmark.
“They’ll be out celebrating with their “families”, wives, children, friends on & on & getting married in chic ensembles. Didn’t you all get the memo? Family is all inclusive.”
In one of the adverts for Zola, two brides stand at the altar and discuss whether their wedding would go more smoothly if they had used a planning site before sharing a kiss.
Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark, said: “The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.
“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.”
Ms Biwer said One Million Moms had complained about the adverts to Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark’s parent company.
A post on the group’s website said that Mr 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.”