Alabama Refuses to Air ‘Arthur’ Episode Featuring Same-Sex Wedding

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It is the end of the world, and the state of Alabama seems to be leading the march down the drain. The state was in the news earlier this week because it passed what is effectively a total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape and incest as part of a coordinated national effort to reverse Roe v. Wade and systematically strip away reproductive rights. It has been a dark week (well, few years) for this country.

As if that didn’t suck enough, the children’s cartoon Arthur, starring that lovable aardvark, aired the first episode of its 22nd season, and Alabama managed to screw that up to. In the episode, called “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” Mr. Ratburn, a school teacher…and a cartoon rat…marries Patrick, a chocolate maker, and *gasp* another man. The depiction of a same-sex cartoon rat marriage was too much for Alabama Public Television, which, in a predictably backward move, refused to air the episode.

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Alabama is the poster state for regressive policies.

Make no mistake; the Alabama abortion ban is part of a nationwide effort by the GOP to strip away reproductive rights from not just women but anyone with a uterus.

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And now, Alabama is censoring a children’s TV show.

One of the best of all time! Arthur has been running on PBS since I was a kid. The show is wholesome, the characters are complex, and it’s also adorable.

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And in the first episode of the show’s 22nd season, they decided to give Mr. Ratburn the wedding of a lifetime.

In the episode, the kids know that Mr. Ratburn’s wedding comes up, and they believe he’s marrying a woman, another rat. But she turns out to be his sister. They are ecstatic when they see Mr. Ratburn walking down the aisle with Patrick, his husband-to-be.

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Everyone who grew up with Arthur kind of freaked out about this…in a good way.

It’s 2019! There should absolutely be out gay characters on children’s TV shows. It’s more than a no-brainer. It’s past due. It’s necessary.

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Basically, this:

P.S. Do you know how amazing it is for students to be invited to their teacher’s wedding? In second grade, it was my teacher’s first year teaching, and he invited us to his wedding ceremony. He even winked at us as he walked down the aisle. And I’m still talking about it 23 years later. But a wonderful, joyous, same-sex wedding that Mr. Ratburn’s students got to attend was way too much for Alabama Public Television…

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The stations flat-out refused to air the episode, claiming it would “violate” the trust of their audience.

Programming director Mike McKenzie told CNN, “Our broadcast would take away the choice of parents who feel it is inappropriate.” Problem is, Mike, that being gay isn’t inappropriate. Full stop.

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Alabama has continually proven to be a petri dish of shockingly regressive policies.

Arthur creator Mark Brown felt like the show had a responsibility to add this example of representation to the world of kids’ TV. “So many of us have family or friends who are gay who are not represented in the media,” he told CNN. “We have people in our family that are gay and raising children and looking for things to validate their families.”

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TV writer Jess Dweck pretty much summed up Alabama’s backward thinking with one sarcastic tweet.

The state is simultaneously forcing adulthood on so many young people who will experience trauma and not trusting kids to watch two cartoon characters get married. I am running out of words for how infuriating, retrogressive, and cruel the state of Alabama is being to its own residents.

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And much of the internet feels the same way.

Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch even started a petition to change the Alabama state flag to Mr. Ratburn’s gay wedding. Mostly a symbolic gesture, I’m sure, but one that nevertheless gets the point across.

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And that point is…

Haters gonna hate. States are gonna try to oppress people and strip away their constitutional rights and destroy all the progress we’ve made. But we can’t let them. And we won’t. Many celebrities with big platforms are now choosing to speak out against the issue…

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