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maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

if Bert and Ernie aren’t gay, where does that leave Kermit and Piggy? or Elmo’s parents?

Bert and Ernie

Sesame Street is in New York City. It’s now legal in New York for gay couples to marry. Ergo, Bert and Ernie should get married. A petition at Change.org is hoping to get support for that very notion, as a way to teach tolerance to children. (At this writing, the petition has passed 5,000 signatures.)

The Sesame Street people beg to differ. Sesame Workshop issued this statement on Facebook:

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 (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.

Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog

But… Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy are puppets, too, and yet they clearly have sexual orientations (not to mention the other more problematic issue of transspeciesism). And Kermit was originally a Sesame Street Muppet. And Elmo has parents, Mae and Louis. So clearly Sesame Street Muppets can have sexual orientation… as long as its hetero.

Why is it okay for Muppets to have heterosexual orientation but not homosexual orientation?

Here’s why:

The opposition to the notion of Bert and Ernie getting married — as demonstrated in the comments following that Facebook post, which use words and phrases like disgusting, political, moral, protecting children, and so on — comes down to this: Many people are unable to think about gays without thinking about gay sex. Yet clearly they are able to think about straights without thinking about straight sex, because if this were not the case, they’d be complaining about how disgusting it is to expose children to hetero couples. How men and women getting married is a moral issue that parents should be teaching kids, not TV. These same people, however, would never dream of trying to “protect” kids from hetero couples, because how do you protect kids from something that is all around them?

Here’s the thing, though: Gay couples are all around us. There are small children who have gay parents. Why shouldn’t they see something like their family on TV? Why couldn’t Bert and Ernie — or some other same-sex pair of Muppets — get married in a sweet, gentle, appropriate-for-children, very special episode of Sesame Street?

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