American actress Candace Cameron Bure is known for her role on Full House, as well as her many appearances in Hallmark Channel productions. However, she has recently left Hallmark to become a chief creative officer for the new Great American Family channel.
“It basically is a completely different network than when I started because of the change of leadership,” Bure said about Hallmark in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “My heart wants to tell stories that have more meaning and purpose and depth behind them. I knew that the people behind Great American Family were Christians that love the Lord and wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment.” 
“Keep traditional marriage at the core”
However, Bure’s Wall Street Journal interview created controversy on the topic of diversity in her films. For example, Hallmark will soon debut “The Holiday Sitter,” its first original holiday film focused on an LGBT love story. When asked if Great American Family would also feature same-sex couples, Bure said, “I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core.”
This sentiment was echoed by Bill Abbott, the chief executive of Great American Media. He used to be the chief executive of Hallmark Channel parent company Crown Media Family Networks. He described the new channel’s formula as “soft faith,” offering Christian messages without proselytizing.
While at Hallmark, he received backlash for not bringing diversity into its programming. In late 2019, he refused to air commercials for Zola, the wedding-planning website, since it depicted same-sex brides kissing. This led to outrage and #BoycottHallmark trending on Twitter. The channel issued an apology and reinstated the ad. Abbott left soon after the incident, saying the timing was just coincidental. When asked if the new channel would feature LGTBQ+ stories, he answered vaguely, “It’s certainly the year 2022, so we’re aware of the trends. There’s no whiteboard that says, ‘Yes, this’ or ‘No, we’ll never go here.’”
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Criticisms of Candace Cameron Bure’s Interview
These comments sparked a backlash against Candace Cameron Bure and Bill Abbott. GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called Bure’s words “irresponsible” and “hurtful.” In a statement, Ellis said, “If [Great American Family’s] plan is to intentionally exclude stories about LGBTQ couples, then actors, advertisers, cable and streaming platforms, and production companies should take note and seriously consider whether they want to be associated with a network that holds exclusion as one of its values.”
Criticism also came from social media star and dancer Jojo Siwa, who came out as gay in January 2021. “Honestly, I can’t believe after everything that went down just a few months ago, that she would not only create a movie with intention of excluding LGBTQIA+, but then also talk about it in the press,” Siwa wrote in Instagram. “This is rude and hurtful to a whole community of people.” 
Holly Robinson Peete, who had also starred in multiple Hallmark movies, called Bure’s comments “disappointing but not surprising.” She added, “Go make the content that you want to make but why insist on castigating others? It’s the judgment for me. As a proud mom of an lgbtqia person, the traditional marriage quote stung. Proud to be on Hallmark channel which understands the importance of diversity and inclusion of EVERYONE.” 
“I am called to love all people, and I do…”
Bure had recently responded to the backlash in a lengthy statement, which included: “…All of you who know me, know beyond question that I have great love and affection for all people. It absolutely breaks my heart that anyone would ever think I intentionally would want to offend and hurt anyone. It saddens me that the media is often seeking to divide us, even around a subject as comforting and merry as Christmas movies. But, given the toxic climate in our culture right now, I shouldn’t be surprised. We need Christmas more than ever… I am a devoted Christian. Which means that I believe that every human being bears the image of God. Because of that, I am called to love all people, and I do…”
She continued, “…I have long wanted to find a home for more faith-based programming. I am grateful to be an integral part of a young and growing network. I had also expressed in my interview, which was not included, that people of all ethnicities and identities have and will continue to contribute to the network in great ways both in front of and behind the camera, which I encourage and fully support. I’ve never been interested in proselytizing through my storytelling, but in celebrating God’s greatness in our lives through the stories I tell…” 
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- “Candace Cameron Bure Wants to Put Christianity Back in Christmas Movies.” Wall Street Journal. Ellen Gamerman. November 14, 2022.
- “Candace Cameron Bure says new channel’s Christmas movies will focus on ‘traditional marriage’.” Anna Kaplan. Today. November 15, 2022.
- “Jodie Sweetin and More Stars React to Candace Cameron Bure’s Controversial ‘Traditional Marriage’ Remark.” People. Dory Jackson and Jack Irvin. November 17, 2022
- “Candace Cameron Bure Addresses Stance on Gay Christmas Movies, Blames ‘Toxic Climate’ for Controversy: ‘I’m Called to Love All People, and I Do’.” Variety. Emily Longeretta. “ November 16, 2022.