White House invites gay families to 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.

On Tuesday, gays and lesbians gained another victory when Vermont joined Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa in giving gay couples the right to marry. In the District of Columbia, the council voted to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

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.

Overall, officials are gearing up for a bigger turnout than ever before, with families arriving from 45 states and the District of Columbia, said Semonti Mustaphi, deputy press secretary to Mrs. Obama. The majority of egg roll tickets were offered to the public online.

Alan Bernstein, a single gay father, is flying to Washington from West Hollywood, Calif., with his 5-year-old son Issac to participate. His 3-year-old twin daughters will stay with their grandparents. It will be Bernstein and his son's first time at the egg roll.

"I don't think to a 5-year-old it's that extraordinary, but to me it is," said the 43-year-old planning commissioner, calling the invitation an honor.

It's not the first time gay and lesbian-headed families will participate.

In 2006 during the Bush administration, more than 100 gay parents attended the egg roll in part to make the statement that they should be welcome. Some conservatives accused gays and lesbians of trying to "crash" the event and turn it into forum for ideological politicking.

This year already feels different, said Colleen Gillespie of Brooklyn, who helped spark the 2006 effort.

"We feel so welcomed and embraced, and that in a very real way, I think we can just go as a family and enjoy it," said the 42-year-old assistant professor at New York University's school of medicine, who is attending with her wife and their daughters, Ella and Zelda. "We don't have to fight for our right to exist and be treated fairly."

Leah McElrath Renna, managing partner at a D.C. communications firm, agreed. She attended the event in 2006 and 2007 with her partner, Cathy McElrath Renna, and their now 3-year-old daughter, Rosemary.

"Under Bush, it felt a bit like we were crashing our own party. But this year it feels like we're equally honored guests," Leah McElrath Renna, 44, said. "It's more celebratory."

Rosemary is particularly excited to see the Easter bunny again and already has planned her outfit: A yellow polka-dotted dress and a new straw hat with a pink band.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the joy on my daughter's face when she sees the Easter bunny," she said. "And seeing the White House in the background and knowing that America and the future that she lives in will be a more perfect place than it is now."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all