Bert & Ernie New Yorker Cover

The latest issue of the New Yorker featuring Sesame Street’s iconic characters Bert and Ernie cuddling on the couch watching the Supreme Court strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is causing quite a stir around the web.

While many have embraced the cover, arguing Bert and Ernie are gay, the Children’s Television Workshop, Sesame Street’s creators, have repeatedly said the pair are just roommates.

In 2007, they issued a statement clearing up the rumor:

“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 fact that Bert and Ernie are merely friends led Slate’s June Thomas to assert the New Yorker cover is “a terrible way to commemorate a civil rights victory.” While “Bert and Ernie clearly love each other,” Thomas writes, “does Ernie suck Bert’s cock? I don’t think so.”

Tyler Coates of Flavorwire echoed Thomas’ sentiments, calling the cover “infantilizing and offensive” arguing it minimized “the decades-long — hell, millennia-long — fight for equal rights by needlessly sexualizing a pair of puppets.”

Other complaints? Many chided the New Yorker for embracing the DOMA decision, while failing to mention the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act.

But Jack Hunter, the artist of “Moment of Joy” (which was actually created last year), sees things a little differently:

“‘It’s amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime. This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate.”

Whether or not people agree with the New Yorker cover, it’s clearly done its job.

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