An online petition has amassed more than 4,000 signatures calling on producers of children's show "Sesame Street" to have Bert and Ernie tie the knot. The change.org petition, started by Lair Scott on August 4, insists that "Sesame Street" can help teach children about "the tolerance of those that are different."
The petition states: "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."
However, Sesame Street producers say Bert and Ernie, two male characters who have shared an apartment and bedroom for decades, will not be getting married to each other or anyone else.
"Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics ... they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation," Sesame Workshop said Thursday in a statement to The Christian Post.
"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."
As of Friday morning, at least 4,391 people had signed on to support the push for the non-profit PBS program to introduce the issue of homosexuality to children.
A Facebook page linked to the petition, entitled "Let Bert & Ernie Get Married On Sesame Street," had also attracted more than 2,000 supporters.
Comments were mixed on both change.org and Facebook, with some responders applauding the petition's push for "equal rights" and others wondering about the wisdom of introducing sexuality on a children's program.
A user on change.org identified as Heather Davis expressed support for gay rights, but added, "I dont feel like its right to let little kids watch it... If you get older and decide you are LGBT then that is your choice but to instill it in children is wrong..."
An oppositional petition had also been launched on change.org and had only gained about 50 signatures by Thursday morning.
According to the program's website, "Sesame Street" is "the place where multiethnic, multigenerational, and even multispecies residents coexist in harmony."
The show, on the air since 1969, starts its 42nd season September 26, 2011.