Bert and Ernie Need to Get Hitched

"Sesame Street" has always dealt with adult issues. Why not gay marriage?

Kermit and Miss Piggy.

Oscar and Grundgetta.

The Count and Countess von Backwards.

Why not Bert and Ernie?

An online petition launched last week on  is urging  “Sesame Street” to make honest Muppets of Bert and Ernie by having them get married.  As of last night, the petition had 9,704 signatures, including mine.

In a typical wimpy PBS move, “Sesame Street”said in a statement that B & E are “best friends,” and that despite their many human characteristics, they “remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation.”

Can you say “denial,” boys and girls?

If your bachelor uncle shares a bedroom with his man “friend” for 40 years—and they wear matching pajamas—you can bet your Bar Mitzvah money they’re homos.  Why should it be any different for the furry-headed boys in the basement apartment at 123 Sesame Street?

Truth is, Bert and Ernie were born to be gay. Graphically, they were designed based on two fruits. (Bert was a banana, Ernie an orange.)  You can look it up.

Wake up and smell the cappuccino, PBS.  Everybody on “Sesame Street” has a sexual orientation.

Miss Piggy has the hots for Kermit’s frog legs.  Oscar’s trashy girlfriend, Grundgetta, calls him “Oskie.” The Count has had a string of lady vamps. And two human characters, Maria and Luis, got married in a 1998 episode, and later had a daughter, Gabi.

For pre-schoolers, the subliminal message is that romantic relationships and families only involve heterosexuals, puppets or otherwise. That is utterly unacceptable for a kids’ show that made its bones by taking on adult issues.

When actor Will Lee, who played beloved storekeeper Mr. Hooper, died in 1983, “Sesame Street” dealt with the loss. In “Farewell, Mr. Hooper,” a grief-stricken Big Bird explained the concept of death to his sad friends and neighbors.

As part of an AIDS awareness initiative, an HIV-positive muppet named Kami debuted in 2002 on “Takalani Sesame,” the South African co-production of the show. Producers described her as a “healthy, affectionate, five-year-old orphan.”

In 2006, an Israeli-Arab muppet, Mahboub, was introduced to Israel’s “Shalom Sesame” in an effort to increase tolerance between the warring cultures.  She spoke Hebrew and Arabic and loved music.

To placate a conservative U.S. Congress, “Sesame Street” says its mission is not to teach sexual orientation to children. Why isn’t it? Since the show’s 1969 launch, the iconic broadcast has created thousands of “teachable moments” about hundreds of topics.

In this case, the teachable moment would be Bert and Ernie coming out, then walking down the aisle. Ernie would leave his rubber duckie behind. Bert would shave his unibrow.

Surrounded by family and friends, the grooms’ declaration would teach youngsters (and many of their parents) that love and marriage and family are universal concepts, and that there is room in the tent for everybody.

If that’s not inclusiveness, I don’t know what is. And that, in itself, may be the most valuable lesson of all.