For the first time, a Hallmark Channel movie will feature...

For the first time, a Hallmark Channel movie will feature a same-sex wedding. Pictured are Carmel Amit and Makayla Moore in "Wedding Every Weekend." Credit: Crown Media/Ryan Plummer

Hallmark Channel, criticized in December for pulling a TV commercial that included shots of a lesbian wedding couple, is including a same-sex female couple in its TV movie "Wedding Every Weekend," airing Saturday.

"We are proud of our movie, Wedding Every Weekend," tweeted the cable network, long known for its family-friendly programs. "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."

The telefilm stars Kimberly Sustad and Paul Campbell as Brooke and Nate, two acquaintances separately invited to attend the same four weddings four weekends in a row. To avoid being set up with dates by well-meaning friends, the two begin attending as "wedding buddies," but soon develop a romance. The weddings include a lesbian couple, a Jewish couple and a biracial couple.

"What is so important about what we're doing in this movie is acknowledging the fact that love is love," Campbell says in a behind-the-scenes video on Hallmark Channel's YouTube page. Makayla Moore, who with Carmel Amit portrays the same-sex couple, says, "It really reflects the world that we live in now. It's exciting to celebrate love in all its forms." Cast member Jaime M. Callica, who plays Nate's friend Greg, adds, "This movie really highlights a real-life, real-world approach to love."

A spokesman for Crown Media Family Networks, the Hallmark Cards division that operates Hallmark Channel and related properties, did not respond to a Newsday request for comment.

After a backlash following its removal of a commercial for the Zola wedding-planning website that featured a lesbian couple, Hallmark apologized. CEO Mike Perry said in a statement in December: "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."

He added, "Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences."

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