- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill; and a time to heal; … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, a time to hate; a time of war; and a time of peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 (King James version)

Since it’s the bunny and bountiful egg-hunting season, let us also be mindful of the Scriptures. Easter, after all, is the most holy day of the Christian calendar.

The operative Verse 7 providing a timely caution this Eastertide is the one referring to “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” Is this the season for protests or a time to pay homage to “the peace of the Lord”? Is the White House lawn, filled with frolicking children wearing rabbit ears and Easter bonnets, the time or the place for grown-up gripes? I think not.

The 128-year-old White House Easter Egg Roll should be honored as apolitical family fun, no matter what sex Mommy, Daddy or the grown-up guardian happens to be.

Still, a dozen groups of homosexual parents will begin lining up as early as tonight to secure the coveted tickets to the annual event.

“I don’t think this is a protest,” Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Pride Coalition, told the Associated Press. “Showing up, participating fully in an American tradition, showing Americans that we do exist — that in our minds isn’t a protest.” Can Ms. Chrisler really think Americans are ignorant of nontraditional families? Has she turned on the television lately?

Though they insist they are not turning the traditional children’s day of joy into a political protest, organizers, including those with the Family Pride Coalition, said homosexual parents intend to wear rainbow-colored leis to symbolize their sexual status.

Will their leis speak as loud as the posters, buttons or T-shirt slogans, which the groups decided against bringing to the South Lawn? Probably, especially with a panting press waiting to pounce on these particularly identified parents.

And what exactly is the statement they are so intent on making Monday?

“The message is that gay and lesbian families are everywhere in this country,” Ms. Chrisler said. “We care about the same things that all parents care about: providing our children with every opportunity and every experience possible.”

And well they should. However, can’t their cause take a spring break while their children and everybody else’s race to the finish line pushing colored eggs with Bushites in bunny costumes hopping along?

“It’s ironic. If we didn’t identify ourselves somehow, once again, we’re invisible, and our presence there, it loses its power,” Colleen Gillespie, a professor at New York University, told The Washington Post. She began the movement after visiting last year’s White House Easter Egg Roll with her partner and their daughter, Ella.

Power? Isn’t this day supposed to be about happy children? Did someone single out homosexual parents and tell them they were unwelcome? How would anyone know they were homosexual if they didn’t identify themselves in the first place?

In a simple statement Wednesday, first lady Laura Bush’s office reiterated that “Mrs. Bush wants to make sure all families are welcome to attend the Easter Egg Roll.” All means all. The only caveat issued by the National Park Service, which is handing out at least 16,000 time-spaced tickets, is that at least one child in a group be 7 or younger and no more than two adults are in a group of five.

As always, the tickets will be passed out on a first-come, first-served basis, which is only fair. What would be unfair is if the White House issued too many tickets to influential pols and patrons. But no reports to date suggest such an unsavory, impartial practice.

Mark D. Tooley, of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, may be right in this instance when he said, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to use a children’s event to make a political statement.”

I’d defend to the death any American citizen’s right to protest and “peaceably assemble and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.”

But it is still not clear exactly how the homosexual parents’ grievances are related to the family-oriented Easter Egg Roll.

Sometimes, if you go looking for trouble, you’ll find it.

People with legitimate issues must be careful when, where and how to pick their political battles. True, the louder the constituency, the more likely their grievances will be redressed. But if you cry foul at every turn, you weaken your pleas of injustice or mistreatment when a more egregious instance arises.

Ask any civil rights leader or worker. You can seek, and even win, legislation to outlaw discrimination of any stripe, but changes in the laws of the land do not always translate into changes in people’s opinion, behavior or social interaction. In fact, tolerance and acceptance often take decades.

The White House Easter Egg Roll is supposed to be a party, not a protest. Let the children have some fun in their time, in their season and in their place.



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