The New Yorker said artist Jack Hunter originally submitted the image to a Tumblr.
When the image was released Friday morning, reactions on social media were mostly positive, but the criticism that has emerged has been considerably heated. Supporters of marriage equality have accused the magazine of "infantilizing" the Supreme Court's decision. Slate called it a "terrible way to commemorate a major civil-rights victory for gay and lesbian couples ... Bert and Ernie clearly love each other. But does Ernie suck Bert's cock? I don't think so."
Flavorwire presented a similar argument:
First of all, the notion that Bert and Ernie are gay lovers is ridiculous, and the propagation of the narrative is a childish statement that says more about the sexually obsessed and slightly homophobic tendencies of our culture. Homophobic? Absolutely: it's a continuation of the idea that sexuality affects personality as much as it speaks of our obsession with outing the private lives of public individuals — in this case fictional characters that most of us grew up with.
Still, others believe the depiction of Bert and Ernie's embrace is a noble gesture. The Atlantic Wire called the cover a "picture perfect symbol for gay marriage" and "sweet if you don't overthink it: America's most famous men in love finally have the official acceptance of America."