“We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”

Hallmark has issued an apology for its decision to withdraw a television advertisement featuring a same-sex couple.

Over the weekend, the cable network pulled an advertisement showing a lesbian couple exchanging vows after One Million Moms, a conservative anti-LGBTQ organisation, said the network were promoting the “LGBT agenda”.

Molly Biwer, Hallmark’s senior vice-president for communications, said in a statement: “The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.

“The Hallmark brand is never going to be divisive. We don’t want to generate controversy, we’ve tried very hard to stay out of it. We just felt it was in the best interest of the brand to pull them and not continue to generate controversy.”

The decision was met with widespread backlash from celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, William Shatner and Sandra Bernhard and was mocked on the latest episode on SNL. #BoycottHallmarkChannel was also a trending topic on Twitter.

On Sunday, Mike Perry – president and chief executive officer of Hallmark – said, “The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. They believe this was the wrong decision.”

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

Biwer made a complete 360 with her earlier comments, saying the reversal “truly reflects who we are as a company, we celebrate all families” and that Hallmark have an “unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO at GLAAD, praised their decision, saying it “sends an important message to LGBTQ people and represents a major loss for fringe organizations like One Million Moms, whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine.”