Mormons again planning Utah Gay Pride Parade march
Hundreds of members of the Mormon church are planning on Sunday to duplicate a powerful message they sent last year by marching in the Utah Gay Pride Parade in downtown Salt Lake City.
Last year, more than 300 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are not gay participated in the parade for the first time.
Mormons for Equality, a nonpolitical group that supports same-sex marriage, is marching in the Sunday morning parade.
Mormons Building Bridges, which seeks to send a message of solidarity to the gay community, is planning to march again. The group has not taken a position on same-sex marriage.
On the Mormons Building Bridges Facebook page, organizers are encouraging participants to dress in their Sunday best, just as they did last year.
"It gives us a certain authenticity: what do Mormons do when they are taking something seriously? They put on their church clothes," the post reads.
Organizers are also encouraging participants to carry signs and sing hymns.
Mormons for Equality spokeswoman Sara Long said members of the faith that marched last year didn't know what kind of reaction to expect.
Last year, Long said, "We wondered if we would be excommunicated," or lose privileges in the faith such as the right to enter the church's sacred temples.
Alternately, they wondered if they'd be welcomed by marchers because of the church's opposition to same-sex marriage.
But the group received an overwhelmingly positive reception last year, Long said, and organizers expect that will encourage more Mormons to march this year.
"There were a lot of people that were just very hesitant to speak up about how they felt about these things," she said.
In the year since last year's parade, the LDS church unveiled a website in December that states Mormons should be loving and respectful toward gays and lesbians and appealed to gay and lesbian Mormons to stay in the church. But church officials said they haven't changed the Mormon teaching that same-sex relationships are sinful and that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
Long said "it's wonderful that the church is officially saying, 'Don't reject people because they chose a different lifestyle,'" but because the church still deems those relationship as sinful, "it's half of a good thing," she said.
"We hope that they will continue to evolve," Long said. CP