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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

LGBT Families Thrilled to Participate in Inclusive White House Egg Roll

In 2006 over 100 families with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parents attended the White House Easter Egg Roll, organized by Family Equality Council (formerly Family Pride). At the time, it was unclear whether LGBT families were truly welcome at the White House, but our families enthusiastically participated and the country had an opportunity to see and hear from LGBT families in an unprecedented way. This year, another 100 LGBT families or more will attend the Egg Roll, but this time the White House has specifically encouraged them to participate in this time-honored event. President Obama was the first presidential candidate to openly affirm the equal value of LGBT families, in an August 2008 letter to Family Equality Council's Executive Director, Jennifer Chrisler.

Then Senator Obama stated that we must "do more to support and strengthen LGBT families. Because equality in relationship, family, and adoption rights is not some abstract principle; it’s about whether millions of LGBT Americans can finally live lives marked by dignity and freedom."

"I was thrilled when the White House called on the Family Equality Council to encourage our supporters, tens of thousands of LGBT families nationwide, to apply for tickets to this year's Easter Egg Roll," said Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of Family Equality Council. "It's clear to me that when the Obama Administration thinks about American families, they think about LGBT families, as well. For too long our families suffered under administrations that simply ignored us or attacked us outright, often for the sake of short-term political gain. Americans are tired of divisive politics. In a time of national crisis, all Americans—all families—should come together to renew this country. LGBT families will take this opportunity to show up and be counted as part of this great effort."

LGBT families' organized participation in the 2006 White House Easter Egg Roll showcased their love and strength on an unprecedented scale. In addition to print and radio coverage, more than 16.5 million television viewers saw LGBT families as they are—just as happy to attend the Egg Roll as any other family, just as tired from waiting in line for tickets, just as thrilled to share an American tradition with others.

This is a dream come true for our family,” said Colleen Gillespie. Gillespie, who with her partner Alisa Sirkus and their daughter Ella were the family that came up with the idea of a group of LGBT families attending the event together after attending alone in 2005 and not seeing other families like theirs. They approached the Family Equality Council for support and in 2006 helped organize the highly visible gathering which is now an LGBT family tradition. “We would have never imagined the opportunity this would offer our families to show the country who we are and how much we love and care for our children,” continued Gillespie. “To now be welcomed with open arms by an Administration and a First Family that has such an inclusive vision of diverse families is overwhelming. We cannot wait to come back to the White House next week,” concluded Gillespie.

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