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Wednesday
Aug102011

Wedding Bells for Bert and Ernie?

Moritz Winde/Bongarts/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Thousands of same-sex couples have been married in New York since gay marriage was legalized in the Empire State in July. Now an online petition is pushing to have one more twosome join the line at City Hall -- Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie.

That's right -- the muppets.

Chicago resident Lair Scott started an online petition at Change.org to pressure the Sesame Street Workshop to "Let Bert & Ernie get married on Sesame Street." The petition reads, "We are not asking Sesame Street to do anything crude or disrespectful… It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different." As of this writing, the petition had collected more than 1,600 signatures.

But are Bert and Ernie even gay, never mind ready for the ultimate commitment?

Sesame Workshop, which produces the television show, says no, issuing a statement that reads, "Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves."

That doesn't sway Scott. He's also got a petition up to convince Sesame Workshop to "Out Bert and Ernie as Gay."

Sesame Workshop responded, "Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics…they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation." Scott did not respond to ABC News' attempts to contact him.

The characters were developed 40 years ago by Jim Henson, the creator of Sesame Street. The felt-based duo both wear stripes and have mops of black hair. But that's where the similarities end. Ernie has always played the lovable doofus to Bert's boring, straight man. Bert likes pigeons, Ernie prefers rubber ducks.

For a couple of puppets geared toward preschoolers, these two have generated a certain amount of controversy over the years, mostly centered around their sexual orientation.

Last June, on the Sesame Street twitter account, Bert wrote that his haircut resembled Mr. T's; "the only difference is mine is a little more 'mo, a little less 'hawk." That was enough to convince some that Bert was secretly signaling his sexual orientation. The mere fact that the two puppets seemed male and shared a room seemed enough.

The website Snopes, which debunks urban myths, labeled the rumor that Bert and Ernie are gay as false.

In 2007, Sesame Workshop president and CEO Gary Knell famously wrote, "They are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets… they do not exist below the waist."

Of course that kind of logic won't likely stop the petitions on Change.org. Predictably Lair Scott, who started this whole thing, now has some competition in the Bert and Ernie petition department. There is now a "Leave Bert and Ernie alone" petition and a "Stop Pressuring PBS to make Bert and Ernie Gay" petition.

As of this writing, the number of people signing up for those petitions is climbing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio