Back in December, in response to pressure from the anti-LGBTQ group One Million Moms, the Hallmark Channel pulled ads from Zola.com (below) featuring a lesbian wedding.
Days later, amid severe backlash from the LGBTQ community and its allies, Hallmark apologized and reversed its decision.
Now, Hallmark has announced that Bill Abbott, the CEO of parent company Crown Media Family Holdings, is stepping down — prompting speculation that his departure stems from the same-sex ad debacle.
“Bill Abbott’s departure from Hallmark just months after the disastrous and wrongheaded decision to censor an ad on their network featuring a loving, same-sex couple continues to make clear: opposing equality isn’t just wrong, it’s bad for business,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David wrote on Twitter.
NBC News reports: Mike Perry, president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards, said in a statement that it was “more important than ever that we find relevant new ways to grow our business,” but he did not give a reason for Abbott’s exit.
More from the Wall Street Journal: The backlash over Hallmark Channel’s handling of the ad came during the holiday season, when it normally enjoys its highest ratings of the year. In the week before Christmas, immediately after the controversy, the network drew an average of 1.7 million viewers, down from about two million in 2018, according to Nielsen data. For the television season that started in September, the channel is averaging 1.5 million viewers, down 17% from the previous year.
One Million Moms, which renewed its attacks on Hallmark in the wake of the company’s reversal, has yet to comment on Abbott’s departure.