Utah

Boy Scouts join Mormon allies at Utah Pride, defy policy by marching in uniform

Rick Bowmer, AP
Members of the Mormons Building Bridges march during the Utah Gay Pride in Salt Lake City on Sunday. Kenji Mikesell, second from right, is an 18-year-old Eagle Scout still active in his troop that is sponsored by the Mormon church. Staff Reports

SALT LAKE CITY — For a second straight year, a large group of Mormons took part Sunday in the Utah Pride Parade in a show of support for the gay community.

Some 400 people from the grassroots group Mormons Building Bridges marched under a banner reading “Family Reunion” in the annual parade in Salt Lake City.

Rick Bowmer, AP
Members of the Mormons Building Bridges march during the Utah Gay Pride in Salt Lake City on Sunday. Kenji Mikesell, second from right, is an 18-year-old Eagle Scout still active in his troop that is sponsored by the Mormon church.

Among them, a group of Boy Scouts and adult volunteers wore their uniforms, defying a leader of the youth organization who had said they couldn’t do so under the organization’s guidelines prohibiting advocating political or social positions.

Mormons Building Bridges organizer Erika Munson told The Salt Lake Tribune that the group and others have helped change public attitudes toward gay people. She notes bishops no longer excommunicate members who come out.

Kenji Mikesell, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout and high school senior who marched in uniform with Mormons Building Bridges, and whose troop is chartered by the Mormon Church, said marching in the parade “just feels like the right thing to do.”

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“It’s kind of a way of saying we want you here,” said Mikesell. “Scouting has been a very positive influence in my life, and I’d like to see more people take advantage of it now that the ban has been lifted.”

Peter Brownstein, a Scoutmaster in Salt Lake City, helped organize the Boy Scouts participation in the march, defying a local Boy Scouts’ leader who said Friday that they were prohibited from doing so.

“We as a Scouting movement do not advocate any social or political position, so I reminded Mr. Brownstein that we do not wear uniforms at an event like this,” said Rick Barnes, chief scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, which consists of more than 75,000 youth.

It wasn’t clear if there will be consequences for wearing their uniforms in the parade.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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