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OTRC: Bert and Ernie 'do not have a sexual orientation,' Sesame Workshop says

Bert and Ernie appear in a scene from 'Sesame Street'. (Sesame Workshop / PBS)

Despite some online groups campaigning, "Sesame Street" muppets Bert and Ernie are never getting married.

Sesame Workshop, the production company behind "Sesame Street," released a statement on Thursday in response to Facebook and online campaigns asking for the two roommates to get married.

"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 company said on their official Facebook page. "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 online petition called "Let Bert & Ernie Get Married On Sesame Street" has over 5,800 signatures.

"We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful," the petition said. "Only that they allow Bert & Ernie to marry or even add a transgender character to the show. It can be done in a tasteful way."

This is not the first time the two characters have been accused of being in a relationship. Last year a Tweet sent from the official Twitter account of "Sesame Street" quoted Bert as saying, "Bert: Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T's? The only difference is mine is a little more 'mo,' a little less 'hawk.'"

The word "mo" is sometimes interpreted as slang, being short for "homosexual".

The Tweets sparked a Los Angeles Times article about how some viewers thought the show was developing a more "gay-friendly" vibe.

Last year, the Sesame Workshop maintained that the two characters were not gay. The two "do not portray a gay couple, and there are no plans for them to do so in the future," the spokesperson said. "They are puppets, not humans."

In 2002, Sesame Workshop sent a cease and desist letter to Los Angeles filmmaker Peter Spears, who depicted Bert and Ernie as a gay couple in his film "Ernest & Bertram," which was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival.

In recent years, "Sesame Street" has featured openly gay guest stars such as comedienne Wanda Sykes and "How I Met Your Mother" actor Neil Patrick Harris, as well as parodies of shows such as the adult-oriented HBO series "True Blood" called "True Mud." There was also a parody of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" called "Law & Order: Special Letters Unit."

Last year, amid a real-life court battle over gay marriage, bloggers used a "Sesame Street" video of Grover explaining marriage to a boy as an argument for gay rights, the Los Angeles Times said. That video can be seen below. Since then, same-sex marriage was legalized in New York state.

A Sesame Workshop spokesperson told the newspaper that "Sesame Street" is not consciously trying to appeal to gay viewers, adding: "We've always reached out to a variety of actors and athletes and celebrities to appear on the show, and our programming has always appealed to adults as much as children."

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