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JIC Post:By Matthew E BergerPlanetOut NetworkOutrageous bonnets and dresses may not be all that gets attention at one of America's oldest Easter traditions.Thousands of children- including those with lesbian and gay parents- will come with baskets filled with brightly decorated eggs and roll them down the famous White House lawn, hoping that George and Laura will be watching the fun at the annual Easter Egg Roll.A group of gay rights organisations is urging gay and lesbian parents to join the April 17th event, to highlight the similarities between themselves and heterosexual families.While the event is months away, the potential participation of gay families has already garnered White House attention.The Family Pride Coalition has been sending e-mails to its members since November, urging them to come to Washington with their families for the event, which is traditionally open to the public and always draws national media attention.Already, more than 100 LGBT families have said they will be coming, from as far away as California."I think it really tugs at the heartstrings of most parents," said Jennifer Chrisler, the coalition's executive director. "All we want is to participate fully with all of the same rights and privileges as other parents."The idea came from some of the organisation's members, who went to the egg-roll event in previous years and saw it as a good place to showcase gay families.It is one of the largest family events in the country each year. Started by President Rutherford B Hayes in 1878, it has become an annual White House tradition.But the event is sponsored by the White House and often includes participation from either Laura Bush or senior administration officials, so a large influx of gay participants is not likely to be welcome.Other gay groups have been spreading the word of the event, including Soulforce, a Christian gay organisation.Their participation caught the attention of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine earlier this week, which suggested the gay groups would be "crashing" the egg roll.When asked on Wednesday if the administration would work to block the participation of gay families, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said a decision would be made closer to the event's date."I've seen a couple of reports about it; I don't know how extensive that reporting has been," he said. "But this has been a family event for a long time, and the president always looks forward to this event."Chrisler said she expects most of the gay families will come from the Northeast, and that she hopes they will all wear a special pin or hat to identify themselves. A special event for the families from same-sex households is also in the works.Many of the details have not been worked out, but Chrisler said the theme of the groups' participation will be "Love makes a family".But despite the coordination, she stresses this will not be a political event."All we are doing is showing up with our kids and rolling an egg down the White House front lawn," she said.That is, if they can get inside.Under standard plans, anybody can wait in line for free tickets to the event on the Saturday before the egg roll.The Family Pride Coalition hopes to have gay parents in line early Friday evening, to be guaranteed tickets, and it is seeking additional volunteers to wait in line as well.Last year, 16,000 tickets were distributed, but the event was closed early due to inclement weather.The event was limited to families of military servicemen and -women in 2003, and gay community leaders suggested a special circumstance may be invoked again to indirectly block the Family Pride Coalition's participation.Chrisler conceded that is a likely possibility, but added: "There isn't any place inappropriate for us to be with our families."
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