An image from Hallmark Channel’s “Christmas at Dollywood” — Photo: Hallmark Channel
Social conservatives are circulating at least two petitions demanding that the Hallmark Channel refrain from including LGBTQ characters, particularly as leads, in its Christmas movies.
The petitions drop after Bill Abbott, the CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark Channel’s parent company, told The Hollywood Reporter that he was open to expanding the network’s audience, leaving the door open to the possibility of airing a film featuring a same-sex relationship.
Abbott made the comments after Hallmark Channel was criticized for its lack of inclusion in casting, with only four of the channel’s 24 original Christmas movies featuring black leads. The channel was also questioned about its lack of representation when it comes to religious minorities and non-traditional families.
“In terms of broadening out the demographic, it’s something we’re always thinking about,” Abbott said. “Always considering and we’ll continue to make the movies where the best scripts are delivered to us and what we think have the most potential.”
Even though Abbott did not explicitly promise to air films featuring same-sex couples as leads, he did confirm that the company was looking at LGBTQ scripts, and pro-LGBTQ advocates have called for some type of representation when it comes to Hallmark’s famed “Countdown to Christmas” programming.
As a result, some organizations are attempting to nix the idea before Hallmark Channel or its parent company make any concessions.
The group One Million Moms launched a petition asking Hallmark to refrain from airing movies or commercials with LGBTQ content, arguing that such content runs counter to the channel’s self-branding as a network featuring “family-friendly” programming.
The petition also warns that Hallmark risks losing viewers by offending Christians and parents who disapprove of homosexuality.
One Million Moms cited a Zola.com ad featuring two lesbians kissing as evidence that Hallmark Channel is wavering in its commitment to family-friendly programming.
Related: One Million Moms objects to “Toy Story 4” for showing a child with two moms
LifeSite, a right-wing Catholic website, posted its own petition demanding that Hallmark reject LGBTQ pitches, arguing that parents, not television, should be allowed to raise and educate their children about their beliefs regarding sexual morality.
The website also said that allowing some LGBTQ representation would not satisfy liberals demanding such representation.
“Hallmark should also know that if they give-in to the LGBT agenda, the LGBT activists will never be satisfied,” the LifeSite petition reads. “They will always want Hallmark to be pushing more and more aberrant views and characters.”
The One Million Moms petition has garnered over 16,000 signatures, while LifeSite’s petition has amassed more than 40,000 signatures.
However, Out magazine has reported that those numbers may be inflated, pointing to fake names and emails that appear in the list of signatories, including “Rick Santorum,” “Deacon Rumpy Pumpy,” and “The Ghost of Titsmas Past.”
Out notes that it was able to sign a similar petition protesting the inclusion of a gay couple in a Walmart advertisement in February by posing and signing up as separate individuals, thus demonstrating that there is no way to verify a person’s true identity and, by extension, that support for banning LGBTQ representation on television may not be as popular or widespread as the groups behind the petitions may wish others to believe.
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