As expected, with the end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came many forms of celebrating the landmark decision. There have been parades through the streets, parties on rooftops. Not to mention, Brad and Angelina just might finally tie the knot now. But no show of support has been as shocking as The New Yorker's new cover. It features a drawing of Bert and Ernie snuggled up together on a couch watching the Supreme Court justices on TV.
I see why they opted for this visual. Whether Bert and Ernie are gay has been a long-running pop culture debate. Still, that doesn't make this an appropriate choice for the magazine to make.
Beloved children's characters should not be sexualized. I don't say this because homosexuality is immoral or wrong in some way. It's not. People should be free to love who they love. Marry who they want to marry. But kid icons from Sesame Street and other programs should not factor into this issue. I think many parents would be just as displeased if Diego was hugged up with Jake (of Never Land Pirates fame). And, again, this is not a moral issue. Kids should be taught there is nothing wrong with being gay. In fact, many of the kids watching these shows already have a playdate pal with two mommies or two daddies.
The reason it's problematic? These figures were created for kids, not adults. And I don't think we should introduce the concept of sexuality -- hetero, homo, or otherwise -- with children's characters. That is not how they view them when they are watching the show. Sex or romantic relationships do not come into play on Nick Jr., Disney Jr., or PBS Kids.
And I don't buy the argument that The New Yorker is for grownups and kids won't see it. Please. Anyone with a child knows they can spot a cartoon, puppet, or anything else remotely fun and playful a mile away. Especially those characters they are familiar with. But any interaction with these characters shouldn't be sexual in nature.
It's wonderful that our children are going to grow up with a new, more inclusive definition of what it means to be a family. It shows that our society has come a long way and we should not hide that from children. But there are more appropriate ways to do that than making Bert and Ernie gay.
What do you think of The New Yorker cover?
Image via The New Yorker