Bert and Ernie Cuddle Over Supreme Court Ruling

The New Yorker magazine is celebrating the Supreme Court's landmark marriage equality decisions by unveiling a cover featuring "Sesame Street's" Bert and Ernie.

On the cover of next week's issue of the magazine, the "Sesame Street" characters are drawn cozily sitting together in front of a TV with Bert's arm around Ernie, and Ernie leaning on his shoulder. The TV shows an image of the Supreme Court justices in their black robes.

The artist behind the cover, called "Moment of Joy," is Jack Hunter. He originally submitted the unsolicited image to a Tumblr page, according to the New Yorker's website.

(Credit: New Yorker)

"It's amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime," Hunter said, as posted on the New Yorker's website. "This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate."

There have long been rumors about the nature of Bert and Ernie's relationship.

When same-sex marriage was legalized in the state of New York in July 2011, an online petition urged the fictional characters to tie the knot.

The petition gained so much buzz that the Children's Television Workshop, which produces "Sesame Street," released a statement saying that 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 2011 statement said. "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 magazine refused an interview request but released a statement reading, "The New Yorker thinks the cover speaks for itself."

"Sesame Street" producers have not commented on the cover, but the image drew a range of reactions online.

The online magazine Slate wrote, "it's is a terrible way to commemorate a major civil-rights victory for gay and lesbian couples," mirroring a number of media outlets that noted the production company's repeated denials that the puppet buddies are intended to be seen as a gay couple.

Not all reaction was negative. The Huffington Post called the New Yorker cover "one of its most awesome covers of all time," while others reported that the image has in fact been floating around the Web for more than a year.

In the past five hours, ABC News has measured more than 12,000 tweets about the Bert and Ernie cover.