The Hallmark Channel is releasing its first movie featuring a same-sex wedding on Saturday.
The film, titled “Wedding Every Weekend,” is about two single friends, Brooke and Nate, played by Kimberley Sustad and Paul Campbell, who agree to be “wedding buddies” and attend four ceremonies in one month.
One of the weddings they attend is for a same-sex couple played by Carmel Amit and Makayla Moore, the network announced on its Facebook page.
Hallmark's decision to feature a same-sex wedding comes after the network was heavily criticized last month for failing to cast any LGBTQ+ leads for their upcoming rollout of 40 new Christmas movies.
“40 new Hallmark Christmas movies, not a single queer lead,” one person tweeted at the time.
One fan also voiced hope that LGBTQ+ representation in the future of Hallmark movies “goes further than just a hint of it.”
The backlash led to George Zaralidis, vice president of network program publicity at Hallmark's parent company, Crown Media Family Network, to speak out.
"Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months, including announcements about projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors. We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome," Zaralidis said in a statement.
Despite a same-sex marriage finally taking place on Hallmark, fans still weren't pleased. When one naysayer voiced disapproval of same-sex marriage, the movie's lead, Campbell, 41, shot back: “Are you concerned the kids might discover love is much more complex and beautiful than the conditional version you’ve described below and wonder what other teachings you’ve mislead them on to suit your grossly out of touch narrative?”
"Not everyone approves of gay marriage, Christian or not," another criticized. "We can love our gay brothers and sisters, but also believe in the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman, and not desire to explain to children what it is they're seeing on TV."
Despite the renewed backlash, Hallmark defended its decision this week.
“We are proud of our movie, ‘Wedding Every Weekend.’ Our priority at Hallmark Channel is to develop a broad mix of content, characters and stories in order to create a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome," it said.