Bert and Ernie: A Facebook petition for gay marriage on Sesame Street?
A petition is circulating on Facebook for a gay marriage ceremony for Bert and Ernie, two Sesame Street Muppets. Is this a good idea?
Let's set aside, for a moment, whether Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie are fair game for a political culture war.
Let's set aside whether these two Muppet roommates were ever meant to be perceived as homosexuals.
And let's set aside whether this is appropriate material for a show that's primarily aimed at an audience learning their ABCs and 123s.
Let's just look at whether the petition on Facebook for Sesame Street marry off Bert and Ernie has a legal leg to stand on.
Where, in fact, does the comic duo reside? If Sesame Street is not located in one of the six states that now allow gay marriage, it's a moot point.
If they lived in Washington, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, Illinois, or Delaware, then the sponsor of this petition (Lair Scott at Change.org) would need to alter it for a civil union or domestic partnership. And then there are some states – Maine, Colorado, and Wisconsin – that give same-sex couples some rights, but not enough to make them legally equal to married couples.
It turns out there's a pretty good case to be made that Sesame Street is in New York City.
On the TV show's 40th anniversary, the city temporarily christened the corner of 64th and Broadway as "123 Sesame Street." The show is shot in Astoria. And sprinkled throughout the show over the years have been clues that would indicate that Sesame Street is located on the Upper West side, sort of.
For example, there's a subway station on the set that provides service to the A, B, 1, and 2 lines. The only place that all of those lines stop are at 59th Street/Columbus Circle. And Big Bird once asked where Los Angeles is located, and was told it was 3,000 miles away (the Big Apple is actually 2,461 miles from L.A.).
So if you take at face value that Elmo, Big Bird, Oscar, Bert, Ernie, and the rest are New Yorkers, then the petition has some grounds for a discussion about gay marriage. In June, New York passed a gay marriage law.
But that still leaves a few other issues on the table. Like, what do Bert and Ernie want to do?
And remember, this isn't the first time that Bert has been co-opted on the Internet for purposes that seem outside the original purview of the show. For about a decade, several humor websites called "Bert is Evil" have popped up. The sites have hosted images of Bert that "proved" he was evil, by posing Bert with Osama bin Laden, Hitler, and other figures.
If Bert really is evil, does Ernie really even want to continue to be his roommate, let alone get married?