News (USA)

For 2nd year, Mormon LGBT group’s bid to join parades is denied

The group Mormons Building Bridges,  participating in Utah Pride in 2012.
The group Mormons Building Bridges, participating in Utah Pride in 2012. Jay Jacobsen

SALT LAKE CITY — For the second straight year, organizers of two of Utah’s most popular parades have rejected a Mormon LGBT group’s request to participate.

Organizers of the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City and the Freedom Festival Grand Parade in Provo denied the bid by Mormons Building Bridges to take part.

Greg James, executive vice president of the Days of ’47, said the parade committee’s decision was based on its belief that Mormons Building Bridges is an advocacy group.

Rules for the July 24 parade forbid advocacy of any kind, “whether it’s a group you might agree with or don’t agree with. We don’t do anything that’s advocacy. This one is advocacy,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune ( ).

Organizers of the July 4 parade in Provo did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Both parades are operated by private nonprofit foundations. The Days of ’47 parade commemorates the arrival of Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.

Erika Munson, a co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges, said she believes her group’s message of inclusion and love is consistent with values espoused by the Mormon church. She’s disappointed by the decisions.

Her group was founded in 2012 with the goal of improving relations between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the gay community. The grassroots group, which is not directly affiliated with the church, is nonpartisan.

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“We were hoping that last year we really got a conversation going and that this year, a lot of the unwillingness to look at the LGBT community as part of our community would fall away,” Munson told The Tribune.

“I’m afraid that the parade committees for Days of ’47 and the Freedom Festival are isolated, which is a shame. These need to be parades for all of Utah,” she added.

In line with the Days of ’47 Parade’s theme of “Pioneers – Forging a New Frontier,” Mormons Building Bridges had proposed a “Utah’s LGBT Pioneers” entry. It would have featured six LGBT leaders from business, education and public service riding in an antique convertible.

The group’s plans called for military veterans who are gay or transgender to march in the Provo parade.

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