When suburban-Chicago family Jaime Garcia, Daryl Rizzo and their daughter Siena Rose Garcia-Rizzo enter the White House grounds on Monday for the annual Easter Egg Roll, their participation will be the result of a special outreach effort of the Obama Administration and Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest LGBT advocacy organization.
The White House is not only welcoming the two dads and their daughter but worked with Equality Illinois to identify and invite them to make sure the festive annual event is inclusive of families of all kinds from throughout the U.S. [There are also other Chicago-area lesbian and gay families attending.]
"The contrast between the previous administration and the Obama administration is stark," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. "While families with gay and lesbian parents had to invite themselves into the event during the Bush years and often felt shunted off to the sidelines, the White House under President Obama has worked to ensure full involvement of families with gay and lesbian parents."
Equality Illinois, among the leading LGBT organizations contacted by the White House, knew Rizzo, Garcia and four-year-old Siena from their participation in Chicago's inaugural civil union ceremony last June 2 in Millennium Park. The couple has been together for 12 years and was joined in a commitment ceremony nine years ago before civil unions were legal in Illinois.
Recent transplants from Chicago, "Papa" Jaime, "Daddy" Daryl and Siena share a big, loving household in west suburban LaGrange that also includes a devoted grandmother and three dogs. The White House invitation arranged by Equality Illinois is very meaningful to the family.
"Our family is thrilled to participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll event," Rizzo said. "To be a part of a celebration that has been a presidential tradition for over 100 years is an honor. Just as important is the opportunity to represent a new tradition for the American family, a loving same-sex household with an adored adopted child. Through the eyes of our four-year-old daughter, there will be no difference between her family and the many families she will encounter on the White House lawn."
To assist the family's travel arrangements, Equality Illinois turned to Orbitz, a familiar LGBT partner in the business community, which agreed to pay the airfare. Orbitz is the only leading online travel agency with a perfect Corporate Equality Index score from the Human Rights Campaign. Orbitz believes in equality for all. For over a decade, Orbitz has been a leader in terms of sponsoring LGBT charities and events and had been a valued sponsor of Equality Illinois for years.