We pay tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela in a series of articles. Get the latest updates here.
Charlize Theron led the tributes to Madiba shortly after the news of his death broke.
Los Angeles - Gay marriage may be legal in six US states but don't expect to see Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie tie the knot any time soon.
That was the message on Thursday from the producers of the popular educational children's show, after an online campaign and petition called for a wedding between the well-known characters as a way to combat homophobia and promote gay rights.
The puppet pair have lived together and shared a room with two single beds for over 20 years, and the petition on website www.change.org said that marrying them would empower gay kids and teach bullies "that homophobia is NOT okay."
"We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful," said the petition, which was signed by over 6 000 supporters.
"Only that they allow Bert and Ernie to marry or even add a transgender character to the show. It can be done in a tasteful way."
But according to the producers they are just good friends, and anyway have no sexual orientation.
"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," producer Sesame Workshop said in a statement on its official Facebook page.
"Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics, they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."
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