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Hallmark announces Christmas movie featuring a gay couple looking to adopt their first child

The film will star 'Mean Girls' actor Jonathan Bennett and 'One Tree Hill' star Robert Buckley

Hallmark announces Christmas movie featuring a gay couple looking to adopt their first child
Cover Image Source: Jonathan Bennett attends the Outfest Queer brunch at Kimball Terrace during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Outfest)

While many companies have made loud promises to prioritize diversity and inclusivity in their businesses, rarely have they been known to actually honor their word. Hallmark Channel, however, is not one of them. Not long after debuting its first-ever same-sex wedding in the August-release Wedding Every Weekend, the network has announced a new Christmas movie featuring a gay couple looking to adopt their first child. According to Good Morning America, Michelle Vicary — executive vice president of programming for Crown Media Family Network — recently revealed a little tidbits about the upcoming film, including the handsome protagonists set to steal our hearts.



The movie, titled The Christmas House, will star Mean Girls actor Jonathan Bennett and One Tree Hill star Robert Buckley. Other notable names attached to the project include veteran actor Treat Williams, Brad Harder, NYPD Blue star Sharon Lawrence, and Ana Ayora of In the Dark. "Our holiday table is bigger and more welcoming than ever. This year's movies reflect our most diverse representation of talent, narratives and families," Vicary said in a statement. "Our movies are rooted in warmth and positivity, meaningful connections, family gatherings and seasonal traditions -- a winning formula we hope will bring our millions of viewers much-needed levity and holiday cheer at the end of a tough year."



This exciting announcement comes just a few months after Hallmark Channel vowed to increase LGBTQIA+ visibility in its programming, following criticism that none of the films in the 2020 holiday movie lineup appeared to feature LGBTQ characters or themes. "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,” a Hallmark Channel spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement at the time. "We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome."



The network has come quite a long way since December last year when it pulled ads featuring a same-sex couple kissing on screen in response to a conservative group's strong objections; only to revoke its decision and issue an apology for having yielded to the naysayers. "The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we've seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision. Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused... Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences," said Hallmark Cards Inc. president and CEO, Mike Perry, in a statement.



With the announcement of The Christmas House, Hallmark has also successfully shut down criticism that none of the previously-announced holiday films featured an LGBTQIA+ lead. The historic movie's synopsis reads: "Working through some difficult decisions, Mitchell family matriarch Phylis (Lawrence) and patriarch Bill (Williams), have summoned their two grown sons -- Mike (Buckley) and Brandon (Bennett) -- home for the holidays. It is their hope that bringing the family together to recreate the Christmas house will help them find resolution and make a memorable holiday for the entire family and community. As Brandon and his husband, Jake (Harder), make the trip home, they are anxiously awaiting a call about the adoption of their first child. Meanwhile, Mike reconnects with Andi (Ayora), his high school sweetheart."

The Christmas House premieres on November 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. as a part of Hallmark Channel's "Countdown to Christmas" which kicks off on October 24.



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