No marriage for Bert and Ernie, they are not gay - Sesame Street
There have long been whispers, but Sesame Street has finally addressed the rumours: Bert and Ernie are best friends, but that does not mean they are gay.
While that statement may yet be open to interpretation, one thing is certain. The pair will not be getting married, producers of the long-running children's TV show made clear yesterday.
The statement came in response to a growing online campaign and petition to have the two puppets get married as a way to beat homophobia and encourage tolerance of gay people.
Almost 9,000 people have signed a petition encouraging the wedding at www.change.org. Many have also joined special "Bert and Ernie Get Married" Facebook page, sparking a lively debate on Twitter and other social media.
Bert, who is fascinated by pigeons and gets easily upset; and oval-headed, free spirit Ernie, have lived together at 123 Sesame Street since 1969. They share a bedroom, but sleep in single beds.
Sesame Workshop, the educational workship behind the 40-year-old educational show, claimed that as puppets, Bert and Ernie do not have sexual preferences.
"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.
"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," Sesame Workshop said in a statement posted on its official Facebook page.
The change.org petition had argued that their marriage would help to put an end to bullying and suicides of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual young people.
"We are not asking that 'Sesame Street' do anything crude or disrespectful by allowing Bert and Ernie to marry. It can be done in a tasteful way," the petition read.
Sesame Street is seen in more than 140 nations and has won multiple awards for its educational content for young children.