Animated gay wedding sparks protest
NASHVILLE (BP) -- A petition protesting a same-sex wedding in the animated PBS children's show "Arthur" garnered thousands of signatures in its first day online.
"Arthur" -- a PBS Kids show chronicling the adventures of an elementary school-aged, anthropomorphic aardvark -- included in its season 22 premier May 14 the same-sex wedding of the title character's teacher Mr. Ratburn, according to media reports.
As The Atlantic recounted the season premier, Mr. Ratburn's "students spend the bulk of the episode following him around to meetings with the woman they believe to be his very controlling fiancée and plotting to stop him from marrying her. Then, the episode delivers a surprise twist ... in which the pushy woman planning the wedding is revealed to be Mr. Ratburn's sister, his wedding is revealed to be to another man (a kindly one, who owns a chocolate shop!), and the kids have no real reason to worry about their teacher's personal life."
But the indecency watchdog group One Million Moms believes there is much reason to worry.
The day after the episode "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone" aired, One Million Moms posted an online petition stating, "I am outraged that PBS Kids would use their children's network to promote same sex marriage. It is offensive to me and my family that the network would glorify the homosexual lifestyle. Until PBS Kids agrees to no longer air this episode ... or others with same sex couples, then conservative families including my own will have no choice but to discontinue watching PBS Kids Network."
As of 1 p.m. Central time today (May 15), 13,280 people had signed the petition.
One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, said in a statement accompanying the petition, "Discussion of such controversial topics and lifestyle choices should be left up to parents. PBS Kids should not introduce this to young children." The network "should stick to entertaining and providing family-friendly programming, instead of pushing an agenda."
"Arthur" has referenced homosexuality in at least one previous episode, CBS News reported. In a 2005 episode, Arthur's best friend met children with two lesbian mothers.
The pro-gay advocacy group GLAAD wrote in its 2018-2019 report about LGBT characters on TV, "Representation [of homosexual characters] in daytime kids and family television continues to grow in leaps and bounds," including "the first same-gender wedding on children's television" last summer in the Cartoon Network's series "Steven Universe."
When "Arthur" followed suit with its same-sex wedding, much of the media coverage appeared to be positive.
Matthew Rodriguez, a staff writer for Out Magazine, told NPR the same-sex wedding on "Arthur" "was just a really great example of ways to teach children that there are so many different types of people.... To see something is to know that it exists in the world and to know that [it] is possible for you."
AiG's Ham voiced a contrary view, tweeting May 14, "You can't trust what your kids may watch on PBS. You can't trust what they may watch on Netflix (that carries programs like Arthur). You can't trust ratings on TV programs & movies. The evil one is out to capture your kids & pervert their minds."
The petition is available at OneMillionMoms.com.