Three years ago, we went to the White House Easter Egg Roll, as part of a lot of other families from the Family Equality Council. It started off as simply a quiet event where we’d all participate as a group — wearing leis so that we could spot each other and so that people would wonder “Who are those people wearing leis?” — and mabye afterwards issue a statement that people rolled eggs on the White House lawn with a bunch of gay parents and their families and … somehow survived.
But it turned to much bigger deal once the right wing got hold of it and Drudge leaked it on the web. Suddenly, it became a “protest” even though it was not a protest. Rather, it seemed the best way to counter then president Bush’s rhetoric about gay parents and our familes was to … well .. show up and let people see us for themselves.
Instead, we became the story.
We attended the following year, too. This time, we were a part of the story instead of the story itself.
Well, we did it again this year, and for the most part it was a quiet event. As I said to the Washington Post, that’s a good thing.
This year, in colorful leis once again, they and the other families said they felt accepted. “And I hope it continues until we’re not newsworthy anymore,” said Heath, a computer consultant.
Another quote didn’t make it into the story. A woman standing next to me said, “Last year were were the story, this year we’re part of the story,” and I finished by adding, “and maybe after that it won’t even be a story. Maybe by then we’ll even have someone in the White House who’ll won’t be afraid to stick around and greet us.”
How things have changed.
This year, we tried to get tickets, but were unsuccessful. But then we got a phone call, and were told that the Obama adminstration is inviting gay families to the Easter Egg Roll.
The White House is allocating tickets for the upcoming Easter Egg Roll to gay and lesbian parents as part of the Obama administration’s outreach to diverse communities.
Families say the gesture shows that the new Democratic administration values them as equal to other families. And for many, being included in the annual tradition — dating to 1878 — renews hope that they will have more support in their quest for equal rights in matters such as marriage and adoption than under the previous administration.
…White House officials said that tickets for Monday’s Easter Egg Roll event were distributed to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations, but did not specify how many or to which ones. Representatives from Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other groups confirmed they were invited and encouraged to have their members participate.
“The Obama administration actually reached out to us as an organization, and said we want gay families there, and they are an important part of the American family fabric,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Boston-based Family Equality Council, which is helping spearhead the effort to organize families to attend.
Chrisler said Tuesday she expects more than 100 gay and lesbian-headed families to take part in the egg roll.
More support in pushing for equality? That’d be nice. It was hard to imagine getting less support during the previous eight years. I’ve disagreed with Obama on some things, especially his position on marriage equality. But I’m glad to have a president who acknowledges and includes our families among all American familes.
It’s an couraging gesture for that reason, but it also points out a difference not just between the previous administration and this one, but between Democrats and Republicans.
At this point, no Republican candidate for the presidency and almost no Republican candidate for a major office, can risk being “too supportive” of gay people or our families. Certainly, opposing a state anti-gay marriage amendment or ballot initiative would be detrimental to the campaign of almost any Republican candidate. Supporting such an amendment or initiative, on the other hand, would help them among the far right and religious conservatives that still have a stranglehold on the party.
Democrats haven’t exactly come out in support of marriage equality, and may Democratic candidates leave something to be desired in that department. But to me, the most significant difference between the two is that when I listen to Democrats I hear a vision of American that includes a place for families like mine.Or at least I see movement in that direction.
When I listen to Republicans, I don’t hear that. I hear a vision for American with no place in it for my family and others like us. Any movement I see in that direction ends up feeling like a fake out.
The choice between the two, then, is pretty easy for me — especially since my core beliefs put me closer to the Democrats than the Republicans.
If you start with a vision that includes me and my family, fully, as Americans, you’ve already got my attention and you’re more likely to get my support.