Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer

Change.org Pressures Ernie and Bert to Marry

Filed By Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer | August 10, 2011 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: Bert, Bert and Ernie, Jim Henson, marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Sesame Street

hGBaYPIpbXFNTHM-250.jpgDon't tell me the gay rights movement hasn't become conservative. Now they're pressuring Ernie and Bert to get married. Because the only legitimate domestic relationship, even for puppets, is marriage.

The Change.org petition reads:

In this horrific age of LGBT kids taking their own lives, they need to know that they ARE BEAUTIFUL and their lives are worth living. Aside from those that are committing suicide, the bullies that facilitate these tragedies need to learn that homophobia is NOT okay. They need to know that acceptance of their fellow human beings would indeed plant a seed of peace that will reverberate throughout the world. We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful. Only that they allow Bert & Ernie to marry or even add a transgender character to the show. It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different. Let Sesame Street and PBS Kids be a big part in saving many worthy lives. Please visit our Facebook page.

Nearly 1,500 people have signed.

If you need me, I'll be tearing my hair out.


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Hi Steven! Thanks for writing about the Bert and Ernie petition. I am an Organizing Manager at Change.org (and fellow Bilerico Contributor). I just want to make a clarification. Change.org as an organization is not "pressuring" Burt and Ernie to get married. Rather, Change.org is a platform where anyone, anywhere can start, join, and win campaigns for social change.

In this case, Lair Scott and several of his friends came up with the concept and started a petition using Change.org's platform. Lair has also started a petition urging Sesame Street to "out" Burt and Ernie.

You can see that petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/sesame-street-out-bert-and-ernie-as-gay

I think the petition is pretty stupid, considering that they've never been officially noted as being gay characters. In fact, Sesame Workshop has stated that they are not. They've only been perceived as a gay couple by some viewers. To demand that they be "allowed to marry" would require that they be officially be stated as being gay or bi in the first place. It seems that Lair and his friends put the horse before the cart.

Personally, I enjoy interpreting Bert and Ernie as an adorable same-sex couple just as much as I enjoy interpreting them as adorably close, if not mismatched, straight friends (or even same-sex attracted platonic friends, if one wishes).

The petition is either half-joking or an example of the abuse of the serious need for attention to LGBT youth issues.

I've never felt strongly that Bert and Ernie were gay. I think mostly they're just Muppets. That said, I don't think the suggestion of a particular storyline means that we've all become Jesse Helms. If you'll note, they also suggest the addition of a trans character and, as Joe said above, this is not a concerted effort to "pressure" the Muppets to tie the knot. It's simply a petition.

But the bigger issue is how did support of marriage suddenly become an inherently conservative position? Marriage is about not about left or right but about commitment. And commitment itself can be inherently progressive. The fight for marriage is not about forcing people to choose to be married. It's about giving those of us who choose that the option to do so. Supporting those who make that choice, and also supporting other choices, is truly a mark of a progressive movement.

i'm neither outraged nor elated about this. I do believe it is one opportunity to change the discussion on marriage. Each end of the spectrum must alter their focuses. If they absolutely won't tolerate the idea of gay marriage' and we insist on nothing less because it is true that separateis really not equal, then alttrenatves must be explored I don't have the answer but I do think that something like a civil contract' between 2 humans for a personal and familial union could work federally. Then, if Bert & Ernie simply must have a marriage, they could swing by a friendly local church and do that. So could Dick & Jane. Reardless, both couples would bound by the same civil partnership with all the same responsibilities and benefits.

Gee ... to educate America's children, maybe Bert and Ernie ought to get married.

And maybe Cookie Monster should come home with an HIV-positive test result. Crawled into a garbage can with a discarded, infected IV-syringe.

I don't think so ... let's let the kids be kids for a few years.

See! I tolja! I tolja!

Looks like the folks at Sesame Street agree with me ... ur ... uhh ... more or less!