Editors' note:All day today Dustin Kight from the Family Equality Council will be bringing us updates from LGBT families who were invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll. Tune in for more throughout the day!
Good morning, all, and happy "LGBT-inclusive White House Easter Egg Roll Day" -- unofficially proclaimed :) I'm very excited to post updates, photos, and reflections from LGBT parents and their family members attending this year's event. The freshest content will live up here, above the fold. To read about our few weeks' journey to this day, click to read more below.
*Photos are now streaming in. I'm going to add them to the bottom of the post so folks can browse them gallery-style. Enjoy!
Update #7, 5:49pm, That's it for today!
Did someone hear an egg timer? (Woh, woh...) Thanks for sticking with me today -- I'll post some follow-up photos and links to news articles as they become available, but for now the liveblogging is done.
Update #6, 5:08pm, Kids will be kids (especially on video...)
Update #5, 2:02pm, Putting faces to our families nationwide!
LGBT families' participation in the 2006 Egg Roll generated more positive media coverage of our families than any event before. This year, major media outlets such as USA Today, Washington Post, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and more have covered our families' involvement. The Family Equality Council held a media event near the White House at noon today, where reporters could talk to LGBT families from around the country. Kerry Eleveld just published a great article on Advocate.com featuring California, New York, and South Carolina families!
Update #4, 12:52pm, Maximo enjoys the worms and the eggs!
Rob from Virginia reports that his 4-year-old son, Maximo, is way more interested in digging for worms than rolling eggs. To each his own! Maximo did get excited about one egg, though, his green, wooden commemorative egg with the President's and First Lady's signatures on it. Back at the hotel after their morning slot, Maximo can't let it go. From Rob: Our rainbow leis are a great conversation starter. We've had nice families come over and talk to us about being a part of the event. Feels great! Max couldn't believe it when Fergie sang (no joke) his favorite song of hers, "Big Girls Don't Cry".
Update #3, 11:50am, LGBT families meet President Obama, Jill Biden
Just got a call from Jennifer Chrisler. As the first group of LGBT families were heading off the law, including Jennifer's family, Cathy Renna's family, and families from New York and Virginia, they ran into President Obama! It was a very exciting moment for the little ones. Ella, daugther of Egg Roll originators Alisa Surkis and Colleen Gillespie, shook the President's hand, while Jennifer and her children spoke to Jill Biden.
Jennifer reports:My boys were thrilled to meet Mrs. Biden. We all shook hands, and then I told her how meaningful it is for our kids to be invited to this year's event. Whether we want them to or not, kids can feel when they're being discriminated against. They might not use the adult words we use to express it, but they know. The good news is, they also know when they're being welcomed, and my kids felt that from Jill and the other families present on the lawn. I thanked her personally for that. Back to family stuff -- off to get our commemorative souvenirs. More families will be on the lawn later. Updates to follow!
Update #2, 10:59am, Obamas address the crowd:
Jennifer Chrisler called in after the speech: We're in line with the kids for the Easter egg hunt. My boys were VERY excited when we got through the line. The Obamas were getting ready to speak, so Tim and Tom dashed up the hill to see them. As Obama spoke, a cheer went through the crowd, and then the microphone went out! It was really cute when it suddenly came back on, catching Malia saying loudly, "I think it's working!" We saw Michelle reading in the storytelling circle for a minute--great fun. Fergie sang the "National Anthem," the best part of the day for Cathy Renna so far! My wife, Cheryl, wants everyone to know: this Egg Roll is egg-cellent!
Update #1, 9:57am, First word in: Just got off the phone with Cathy Renna -- a Projector, LGBT mom, and media maven who's worked with Family Equality Council to highlight LGBT families' participation in the Egg Roll since 2006. Cathy says: We're still in the 'holding tank'. It's jam-packed down here. Definitely more people around and participating than I've ever seen before, and it's amazing how diverse the crowd is. Reminds me of the Inauguration -- so inspiring to be a welcomed part of this. Kids are so excited! Ticket holders enter the Egg Roll at different times. Cathy and her family (Leah and Rosemary) and Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council, and her family (Cheryl, Tim and Tom) are part of the morning group that might get to meet the First Family! LGBT families will enter at various times throughout the day.
The Road to the White House (Easter Egg Roll) 2009:
It was just a few short weeks ago that the Obama Administration reached out to Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council, asking us to encourage LGBT families to apply for tickets to this year's Egg Roll, ensuring us that our families would be included in the cross section of America present on the White House lawn that day.
Tickets were available online for the first time, replacing the old system of making people camp out overnight on the Ellipse the weekend before the Egg Roll to secure tickets. (I should know -- in 2007 I flew from San Francisco to DC on my birthday in order to participate in the event. You stay out all night, get woken up at 2am or 3am to get a ticket so you can get up at 7am or so to trade your "pre-ticket" for your real ticket, and then you come back a few days later for the actual event. Oh, I almost forgot to mention about camping out in 2007 -- it snowed!).
Online ticketing this year increased the likelihood that families from around the country could participate in the day of merriment. LGBT families from as far away from DC as Colorado, Minnesota, and California wrote in to Family Equality Council saying they had secured tickets!
The White House wasn't shy about letting us tell the world that our families would attend. A few days ago, we told the media that LGBT families would be invited guests of the Obama Administration this year. Associated Press and Advocate articles led the way in terms of media visibility. Since then, thousands of papers, blogs, TV stations and more have featured our families' involvement in the Egg Roll 2009.
Alisa Surkis, who along with her wife, Colleen Gillespie, and Family Equality Council spearheaded LGBT families' controversial participation in 2006, published an op-ed on Huffington Post about the changes to our families' involvement over the last several years.