'Arthur' Creator Reacts to Alabama's Refusal to Air Gay Wedding Episode

On May 13, Arthur aired an episode featuring a same-sex marriage, with the Season 22 premiere finding the kids' teacher, Mr. Ratburn, marrying his partner.

For this reason, the episode was pulled by Alabama Public Television, with the organization refusing to air the episode due to its depiction of gay marriage.

"I'm really proud of that episode," Arthur creator Marc Brown told PEOPLE, adding that he was "very disappointed" in Alabama Public Television's decision. "And I will defend it to anybody who wants to talk about it."

"Why shouldn't their teacher marry another man?" he asked. "We all know people who are gay, who are trans, and it's something that is socially acceptable. Why is there this discomfort that it takes a leap into our national media?" he adds. "I don't want children or people who are different to feel excluded. That's not the kind of world we want to live in. And we want children to be educated so they can see there's not just one type of family. Everyone should feel represented. I think we did that with Arthur."

Mike McKenzie, director of programming at APT, told NBC News on Monday that the decision not to air the episode had been made in April, when PBS alerted stations "to possible viewer concerns about the content of the program." McKenzie and others at APT viewed the episode, titled "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone," and ultimately decided not to air it, showing a rerun in its place. APT has no plans to air the episode.

"Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children's programs that entertain, educate and inspire," McKenzie said in a statement. "More importantly — although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards — parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the 'target' audience for 'Arthur' also watch the program."

"The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not," he added. "Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode."

In addition to the Season 22 premiere of Arthur, APT had pulled a 2005 episode of Arthur spinoff Postcards From Buster that featured a family with lesbian mothers.

"With Postcards From Buster, we began that series after September 11, 2001 when we realized we didn't really understand or know enough about one another," Brown said. "The whole purpose of the show was to depict real families of all kinds — kids living with grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. And here we had this family in Vermont with two moms, and the kids, when they pulled the episode, they were so upset. The question we got from them was, 'Why can't we be on TV? What's wrong with us?'"

"I have never forgotten how difficult this was and how badly I felt for those children," he added. "Nothing was wrong with them. And we had another chance with Arthur to correct that all these years later."

Photo Credit: PBS Kids