LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Will the Children's Television Workshop give way to same-sex puppet love?
An online campaign is calling for the producers of TV's "Sesame Street" to allow characters Bert and Ernie to get married in an attempt to "put an end to the bullying and suicides of LGBT youth", according to the group's Facebook page.
The petition letter adds that "[w]e are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful by allowing Bert & Ernie to marry", suggesting that the show "even add a transgender character to the show...in a tasteful way".
While over 900 people have "liked" the group's Facebook page so far, the comments from visitors are fueling the controversy over whether children should be exposed to homosexuality at such an early age — echoing a similar battle over proposed gay-oriented curriculum in California schools.
"This is not 'Desperate Housewives'...this is a baby's program people!" said one commenter.
The group's Facebook page also includes a photo mocking Christians for their opposition to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The two characters — which first debuted in the original "Sesame Street" pilot episode in July 1969 — have long been depicted as bickering best friends who sleep in the same room together.
UPDATE (8/11): Sesame Street issued a statement on their Facebook page Thursday in reaction to the online petition, saying "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," the statement concludes.
for more features.