Why The Petition To Marry Bert And Ernie Is A Horrible Idea

You may have heard that there’s a petition urging PBS to marry Bert and Ernie, the Muppet roommates who have lived together for 40 years on Sesame Street.

The Washington Post says there’s no harm in letting the two Muppets marry. And we would agree with them, except that in 1992 Ernie himself said that he and Bert weren’t gay.

So starting a petition to make the boys come out and marry is kinda like asking Queen Latifah to come out and marry her live-in “personal trainer.” Yeah, a lot of us want her to do that, but anyone who would actually start a petition urging her to do it obviously cares more about their own agenda than Latifah’s well-being.

“But Bert and Ernie are just puppets!” you might protest. But that doesn’t take into account that to millions of children they are very real and to millions of adults who grew up on Sesame Street, Burt and Ernie have a 40-year friendship that should be respected, not pushed out into the political arena, wrongly labelled and then used as a token of “progress.”

So why exactly does the petition want them to come out and marry? Let’s take a look:

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.

But what do these petition signers have in mind exactly? A televised marriage ceremony? Matching rings? A honeymoon? How should being married change Bert and Ernie’s long history of sharing and bickering? They don’t say. And what if Bert and Ernie are closeted and just don’t want to get married?

Y’know Rupert Everett would argue that coming out would ruin both Bert and Ernie’s careers. Just imagine their Muppet landlord saying, “You’ll never ‘rubber duckie’ in this town again!” The boys would have to take onto the streets and sleep in dumpsters like Oscar. Then they’d have to beg for work on Univision and before you know it, you’d see them doing anonymous shows on 4Cam like Reichen Lehmkuhl. Sad.

Talking about marriage though, the National Organization for Marriage already has their eye on the petition asking, “Do Muppets have an orientation?” We can imagine that if Bert and Ernie tie the knot, they’ll clamor, “What’s next?!! Gonzo marries his CHICKENS?? Oscar can adopt a baby to keep in the trash?!?! Big Bird coming out as trans?!?”

Its a slippery slope on Sesame Street.

Rather than trying to turn straight characters gay or outing closeted Muppets, we think the show should consider introducing a new gay or transgender character or consider tackling the topic of different families and acceptance in other ways. After all, they already introduced an HIV+ Muppet on the African version of Sesame Street.

With a little imagination and a lot of felt, anything’s possible.

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  • Elloreigh

    Petitioning for Bert and Ernie to get married…

    …has to be just about the worst idea in political activism that I’ve heard of in some time.

    There are people who are already yammering about everything getting gayed left and right. I disagree with them, but: Why would we give them ammunition by pulling a stunt like this?

    This is precisely the kind of politics that I hate, detest, abhor, disdain. It makes me want to sell Buicks to Ralph York by the Great White Wishing Well.

  • Hannah

    1992 was a long time ago. Plenty of people who said they weren’t gay back then, now live openly and beautifully gay lifestyles!

  • another view

    i hate to break it to the people who have struggled and continue struggling for the right to marry, but not everyone (gay and straight) wants to get married. so leave bert and ernie alone.
    clearly the rights that come with marriage are important (and whether they have ever had a sexual or romantic relationship or not, if bert ends up in the hospital, his best, if sometimes contentious, friend ernie should be able visit him and to help him make legal, financial and medical decisions. it is irritating that those rights, and so many others, are so wrapped up in what is in many ways a religious ceremony.
    if you want to get married, you should have the right to. but don’t assume that every relationship should end in marriage.

  • M

    Huh. Big Bird does strike me as possibly trans, now that you mention it.

  • Fitz

    Way to alienate the allies.
    You have to be pretty freakin selfish to
    impose your need for recognition onto 4 year olds.

  • timncguy

    @another view: you say:

    “it is irritating that those rights, and so many others, are so wrapped up in what is in many ways a religious ceremony.”

    Civil marriage is IN NO WAY a religious ceremony. Please stop talking in the terms of the right wing. Just because they say it all the time, doesn’t make it true. There is no religious component to CIVIL marriage. Atheists get married every day. They are just as fully married as anyone who just happens to include a religious ceremony celebrating and/or blessing their legal, government sanctioned, CIVIL marriage.

    Remember, a religious marriage ceremony without a CIVIL license isn’t legal. A CIVIL marriage without a religious ceremony is legal. The religious ceremony is unnecessary.

  • Chauncy

    I think what she’s aiming for (social activism) is really inadvertent satire. Oh, well. I’ve seen Queerty headlines worse than this “idea.”


    After being a frequent long time poster, I have been away from Queertyland for a while basically because of the extreme douchebaggery of the staff……..

    However totally agree with Daniel on this one. Far too many times the frightwing lunatic nutbags accuse us of trying to “indoctrinate” and “shove our Gayness upon the frightened kiddies”………If this petition did lead to the marriage of B&E there would be a hue and cry claiming what they accuse us of is true.

    I agree that the creation and introduction of a Gay charachter would be a perfect solution. And one must look upon it this way. For those who would fear such a charachter would cause parents to ban their kids from viewing Sesame St. That parent isn’t allowing their kids to watch PBS anyway. So that argument is pretty much moot……..

  • Jim

    According to 50s television shows, they are already married.

  • Oscar Raymundo

    How about we work on getting all of us the right to get married first. Then we’ll work on the puppets…

  • scribe31

    they don’t even sleep in the same bed…. they should call it quits and find someone they have a better sexual fit with. I hear my brother’s g.i. joe man is single

  • milhouse

    Sounds like the “double-agents” of the radical rights are up to their old tricks again. On the off chance that this is for real, though, let me say that it is one of the most assinine and ridiculous ideas ever to come down the pike.

  • WillBFair

    @milhouse: I could not agree more. In fact, call me paranoid, but I’m starting to see double agents all over the place, in the nut job commentary on far right and far left gay blogs.
    There are the radical atheists at jmg, daily spitting hatred at our allies in the liberal church. And the right wingers at igf, pretending to ‘forge a gay mainstream,’ which in the real world means moderate gay liberalism, but which they define as far right nut cookery.
    I wonder if right wing money hasn’t either infiltrated or gained control of the far right and far left gay blogs.

  • Hyhybt

    Of course Gonzo wouldn’t marry all those chickens. Just Camilla :)

    Why do people insist Bert and Ernie are gay, anyway? Roommates who really are JUST roommates do exist. Roommates who really are friends with no sexual interest in each other whatsoever do exist. Next I suppose you’ll claim Laverne and Shirley were lesbians.

    As for the suicide angle… I hate to say it, but it’s too early. It might be nice to have a gay couple on Sesame Street (NOT by changing established characters, but perhaps by introducing new ones, and definitely NOT pushed heavy-handedly; preferably not made a big deal at all) but whatever hints there might be, I doubt most people know their own orientation, much less get pushed to suicide over it, until long after they’re outside Sesame Street’s demographic.

  • dollyknockers

    Another, “Hard Hitting”, “Cutting Edge” report from Queerty!

  • lovecraft42

    Actually, an LGBT character on the show wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Not Bert and Ernie, but a new character. There are probably plenty of kids who have parents the are both the same gender. So it would be a interesting idea, and will further diversify a show that is well known for diversity.

  • Bronxite


  • Cam

    “”So starting a petition to make the boys come out and marry is kinda like asking Queen Latifah to come out and marry her live-in “personal trainer.” Yeah, a lot of us want her to do that, but anyone who would actually start a petition urging her to do it obviously cares more about their own agenda than Latifah’s well-being.””

    Why would I care more about Latifa’s well being than about the well being of all the gay and lesbian African American teens that are hurt by people with the means to tell the truth staying in the closet?

    I don’t have a problem with Latifa trying to stay in the closet, she can do what she wants to do, but if she is lying about it, I also don’t have a problem with bloggers etc… busting her on it.

    That said, a petition to have Bert and Ernie marry is a bit odd, it also sounds like the Washington Post, which now days has a very conservative owner, is trying to stir up shit by giving the right wing something to crow about.

  • Jonny

    I think Alyssa Rosenberg or ThinkProgress.org put it best,

    “I think it’s actively unhelpful to gay and straight men alike to perpetuate the idea that all same-sex roommates, be they puppet or human, must necessarily be a gay couple. Having close, affectionate friendships with another man doesn’t mean that you two are sleeping together, just as liking fashion doesn’t automatically flip a switch on your sexual orientation and make you only interested in dudes. Such assumptions narrow the aperture of what we understand as heterosexual masculinity in a really strange way. As much as I write about how narrow depictions of women can be in pop culture, depictions of men may end up being more positive, but that doesn’t mean they’re less limiting.”

    Just because too people have a close relationship, or even live to together doesn’t mean they have a sexual or romantic relationship. I’m surprised no one has tried to get Kate & Allie or Cagney & Lacey to get married. Why not even Joey Harris and Michael Taylor from “My Two Dads” they raised a daughter together/

  • Little Kiwi

    I don’t think Bert & Ernie need to get married. Even if they *were* gay, it doesn’t mean they’re a couple – us gays have life-long friends too, you know.

    I do, however, encourage Sesame Street to inctroduce gay characters, whether they’re human or Muppet – it just reflects to sociological reality of life and diversity.

    South Africa’s Sesame Street has Kami, who has HIV. When the US version debuted in 1969, you can see what a focused and concentrated effort was put into racial diversity and equality – the country was still violently racist, Segregation only recently abolished, and the show was groundbreaking in its mixing of cultures and ethnicities in a loving way.

    This is the story 40 years later. Bert & Ernie may not be the resident gay couple on the Street, but I look forward to there being one, or two, soon.

  • Hate us hate yourselves

    The author of this writes~
    “So starting a petition to make the boys come out and marry is kinda like asking Queen Latifah to come out and marry her live-in “personal trainer.”

    Are you using the “FAT” card?? You want everyone to accept your gay ass agenda and not hurt your feelings saying oh all the homo boys are killing themselves and you use a FAT JOKE?

    Here’s my joke~~ You are disgusting dirty fags and “should” kill yourselves <—like that? hurts doesn't it?..don't use hate, even in your words to get equality maybe your fat joke would hurt a chubby teenager who may then jump over a bridge but that's ok because your not fat so it does not apply to you.

    I find it outrageous you even went there..yep good luck getting all those votes.

  • desdemona

    This is so stupid. There’s no need to make Bert & Ernie gay! It will only give more weight to the argument that anti-gay people use that gay people are trying to indoctrinate children!
    Teaching about homosexuality at a middle school level when children are being taught about sexuality in general is the appropriate thing to do. I’m very gay and obviously pro-gay but this is ridiculous and is going too far and it’s embarrassing.

  • Cam

    @Hate us hate yourselves: said…

    “Are you using the “FAT” card?? You want everyone to accept your gay ass agenda and not hurt your feelings saying oh all the homo boys are killing themselves and you use a FAT JOKE?”

    Funny how the posting said NOTHING about fat. Latifa’s girlfriend IS listed as her personal trainer and has been for years. But isn’t it funny how that is EXACTLY where YOUR mind went. Sounds like you are the one with the fat issues.

  • Jonny

    @Hate us hate yourselves:

    You misinterpreted what they were saying. They’re not using the “Fat Card.” They are implying that Latifah’s live-in trainer is actually her lover. Much like people believe that Lorena Hickokm, a noted American journalist and “confidante” of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was actually her lover.

  • Opinionated

    Leave this shit out of a kid’s show. Stop jamming this down people’s throats.

  • princess

    Stop meddling with the minds of children. They don’t need lgbt characters, the world is confusing enough and the nature vs nurture is still up for debate.

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