NBC's decision to open the Today Show's annual wedding contest to gay and lesbian couples has spurred a heated debate online.

Executives reversed course Thursday after meeting with representatives from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). The group began protesting the exclusion about a week earlier.

In addition to including gay couples, producers also agreed to extend the deadline for the contest until Monday, July 12 to allow time for gay couples to submit their applications.

The popular contest asks viewers to plan the wedding – from soup to nuts – of one lucky couple, who then marry live on the air sometime in the fall on NBC's dime.

Reaction at online forums has been strong. While a majority of the 1003 comments on the show's Facebook page thanked executives for their courageous decision, many also ran negative.

“Booo,” said one commenter. “It's not legal marriage and should not be included.”

“Sad day for the 'Today Show,'” wrote another.

“Please reconsider your decision and do the right thing morally for our country and our Lord,” a poster said.

“I am totally disappointed,” responded another. “God is not pleased and neither am I. What about my rights!!!!”

Executives at the network said they did not intend to exclude anyone, noting that gay marriage is illegal in the state of New York from where the show is broadcast. Gay advocates, however, pointed out that a gay couple could marry in neighboring Connecticut or Canada, or in nearby District of Columbia, and have the ceremony on the show. Additionally, the group argued, the state of New York recognizes the out-of-state marriages of gay couples.