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Online petition urges: Let Bert and Ernie get married on Sesame Street

Ever wonder what Bert and Ernie were up to behind the scenes? You wouldn't be the first.

Now there's an online campaign to drag the Sesame Street roommates out of the closet.

Chicago resident Lair Scott launched the petition at Change.org to pressure the Sesame Street Workshop to "Let Bert and Ernie get married on Sesame Street," ABC News reports.

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"We are not asking Sesame Street to do anything crude or disrespectful," the statement reads. "It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different."

The petition collected more than 3,000 signatures within two days.

"I now pronounce you Bert and Ernie!" wrote supporter James Chou.

Others were more circumspect. "MAYBE established characters like Bert and Ernie getting married is pushing things," wrote Randy Stein, "but with honesty, compassion and sensitivity, can't you add a gay or lesbian character or couple????"

Over the years, plenty of fans have pictured the duo flaming it up Village People-style.

But the Sesame Street Workshop has always maintained that Bert and Ernie are less gay couple than odd couple.

Sesame Street creator Jim Henson developed the characters 40 years ago, with Ernie playing lovable scamp to Bert's uptight prig.

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"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," according to a statement from Sesame Street Workshop in response to the online campaign.

In 2007, Sesame Workshop president and CEO Gary Knell wrote, "They are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets … they do not exist below the waist."

The recent movement to "out" the pair has sparked counter-petitions including "Leave Bert and Ernie alone" and "Stop Pressuring PBS to make Bert and Ernie Gay" campaigns.

Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor has raised the question of whether a marriage between Bert and Ernie would in fact be legal. If the comic pair are not residents of one of the six states that allow gay marriage, "it's a moot point."

Nevertheless, clues over the years suggest that Sesame Street – which is shot in the Astoria section of Queens – is located somewhere in the Big Apple.

And now that gay marriage is finally legal in New York, a puppet gay marriage may be an idea whose time has come.

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How would you feel about Bert and Ernie being joined in matrimony?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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