Should Bert and Ernie get married?

The Week

A debate-sparking petition urges the Sesame Street buddies to tie the knot — even though they've never come out as gay

Can you tell me how to get... to the same-sex wedding on Sesame Street? A group of gay-rights activists would like to give PBS some directions on that front. Through Change.org, the group is petitioning to have popular Sesame Street roommates Bert and Ernie get married. While the creators of Sesame Street have never confirmed the long-standing rumor that the puppet pals are actually gay, the petition (signed by more than 700 people) argues that the move would teach tolerance and acceptance to the young viewers of the children's program. Is it time for Bert and Ernie to say "I do"?

Yes. This would teach kids a valuable lesson:  At first, the thought of Bert and Ernie's nuptials "brought a sort of Monty Python-esque grin to my face," says Jillian Page at The Montreal Gazette. Sure, there's an "apparent madness" to the petition, especially considering the characters have never come out as gay. But the positive message behind that madness — "teaching tolerance and saving the lives of LGBT children" — makes this marriage worth considering.
"Will Bert & Ernie get married?"

No. This is way too political for a kids' show:  The last thing parents need is for their children to be "indoctrinated by the radical LGBT activists" behind this petition, says Karen Beseth at The Lonely Conservative. Bert and Ernie are characters on a show with a target audience of impressionable preschoolers, whose politics later in life would be shaped by this controversial move. "The worst part is that the taxpayer-funded PBS will probably give this idea serious consideration."
"What next? Liberals demand Bert and Ernie get married on Sesame Street"

And this proposal is incredibly presumptuous:  PBS has long made it clear that Bert and Ernie are not gay, says Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress. But even if they are, who says they're a couple? Marrying the puppet pair might actually hurt gay men by perpetuating the idea that "all same-sex roommates, be they puppet or human, must be a gay couple." It's intolerant to suggest that "having close, affectionate friendships with another man" automatically means "that you two are sleeping together."
"Bert and Ernie shouldn't get married"

View this article on TheWeek.com Get 4 Free Issues of The Week

Other stories from this topic:

Like on Facebook - Follow on Twitter - Sign-up for Daily Newsletter
View Comments