The evening after the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality was announced on June 26, 2015, the White House astonished the world when it lit up in rainbow-colored lights. Many assumed it was a Photoshop prank, but the home of the president was indeed showing its pride on that historic day. The president tweeted: “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins.”
The lighting almost didn’t happen. The White House tested the lights earlier in June (trying colors in random orders on an exterior wall, so as not to attract attention), but then the gear boxes that contained the lights were accidentally soaked in the rain, and, at the last minute, backup lights had to be used. At 6:52 p.m., the switch was flipped and, luckily, the lights blazed on. Thousands made their way to Pennsylvania Avenue that evening to celebrate, taking selfies throughout the night (the lights stayed on until shortly after 4 a.m.).
“I think many LGBT Americans and their families simply felt validated as human beings,” says Jeff Tiller, the 32-year-old White House associate communications director who was one of those responsible for the iconic display. “Perhaps they saw a reflection of themselves when they looked at the White House that night, or just felt connected to their fellow Americans through the diversity and inclusion those colors represent. Love won, and the White House brightly reflected that victory.”