Activist Groups Politicize WH Easter Egg Roll

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:06pm EDT

( - A homosexual advocacy group is again hoping to take part in Monday's annual White House Easter Egg Roll, but they won't be the only activist group pushing a cause. Anti-war campaigners plan to hold their own event on the North Lawn, complete with pretend cluster bombs.

The Family Pride Coalition plans to hold an overnight "blogathon" Friday while camping out for tickets. The children's event, which has been held at the White House on Easter Monday since 1878, is being hosted this year by first lady Laura Bush.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer parents and their families from all over the country will be braving the cold" Friday night lining up outside the White House gates at 7 PM for tickets that won't be available until 7:30 AM Saturday morning, the group said on its website.

"At Family Pride, we believe that by participating fully and openly in time honored traditions like the Egg Roll we can help the American public come to know our families," the group said. They plan to upload pictures, commentary and videos of their experience.

"So, help make history again by joining us or volunteering at the egg roll! If you can't make it to the event, please financially support the visibility of LGBTQ-parented families - changing hearts and minds across the country," the group said.

About 100 Family Pride families from across the country are expected to attend this year's event.

Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Pride, told the Washington Blade newspaper the group will be wearing rainbow leis Monday, and will also have extra leis to hand out to "gay-friendly families."

"It's hard to say no when you have a four- or five-year-old standing in front of you saying, 'Give me a pretty necklace,'" she was quoted as saying.

The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), which spoke out last year against the Family Pride's drive to participate in the Easter Egg Roll, accused the group of trying to "exploit" the event for "political statements."

"The whole point of the Easter Egg roll is for children, and not for adults," Mark Tooley of IRD told Cybercast News Service. "I think the precedent they established last year was unfortunate, and it seems to have encouraged at least one or two other groups to also attempt to use the egg roll for their political statements."

Other groups plan to use the event to promote an anti-war message. The Vineeta Foundation, a nonprofit non-governmental organization, will be joined by Code Pink, Democracy Rising, and other liberal groups on the North Lawn of the White House (Lafayette Square) for a "White House Cluster Bomb Hunt."

The Vineeta Foundation created a webpage, designed to resemble the official White House website but promoting the cluster bomb event.

"This year, thousands of outstanding youth won't be able to join President Bush as special guests at the White House Easter Egg Hunt on the South Lawn because these children had their lives blown apart by insidious unexploded American-made ordnance, in places like Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon," the group said.

Local anti-war activists have created decorated "cluster bombs" to represent each state, much like the White House Easter Egg Display.

"For those who can't come [to the official event], we're going to have a cluster bomb hunt directly north of the festivities. Bring the kids! (After, we'll have a WMD hunt and bin Laden hunt for the adults.)" the website says.

Tooley said the Family Pride Coalition has established a precedent with its participation in last year's event. He said he hopes "it won't affect the Easter Egg Roll too seriously, but still it's lamentable."

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