Children’s television show Sesame Street has been forced to issue a statement saying that Bert and Ernie are not a gay couple.
The popular characters had been co-opted by some in the gay marriage lobby as a homosexual couple, according to a report in Melbourne’s Sunday Age.
''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,'' the public television program said in its statement.
''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 said.
A Facebook campaign started by U.S. gay rights activist Lair Scott asked that Bert and Ernie get married on the program to teach acceptance of gays and lesbians.
The Facebook page, ''liked'' by more than 5000 people, has prompted much online debate. ''… if they are only hiding it for our benefit and want to openly live their puppet relationship, let's let them,'' one person commented.
But others disagreed. ''Children at the age of four do not know what sexuality is. Do not pervert a perfectly good children's show,'' another person wrote.