Post submitted by Diane Martin, HRC Religion and Faith program

Salt Lake Pride; LGBT pride; Mormons

“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

Of the thousands who participated in the Salt Lake City Pride celebrations on Sunday, nearly 400 people proudly marched with Mormons Building Bridges, a group dedicated to welcoming and accepting LGBT members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The Mormon group held signs referring to biblical passages proclaiming God’s love and acceptance for all.  The group was received by the Utah crowd with roaring applause. 

The pride parade in Salt Lake City demonstrates the increasing contribution faith communities are making not just to the political fight for equal rights, but to the celebration of LGBT life in cities across the United States.  Members of the LDS church were also joined in their march by members of the Unitarian and Episcopalian churches, including Rt. Reverend Scott Hayashi, the first Episcopal bishop to participate in the parade.

In the past, the Church of Latter Day Saints served as one of the largest supporters of Proposition 8, and as the largest sponsor of scout troops for the Boy Scouts of America, whose past policy rejected openly gay scouts.  However, groups like Mormons Building Bridges and Affirmation have been working within the church community to create change.  Since 2008, the LDS Church has stopped excommunicating LGBT members and has come out in support of the Boy Scouts of America rescinding the ban on openly gay scouts.

Mormons Building Bridges were joined by members of Scouts for Equality, a group including a number of Boy scouts from a local Salt Lake City troop sponsored by the LDS Church.  Despite being warned by their chief scouting executive, these scouts chose to wear their full uniform to show their support for welcoming gay scouts into the organization.  One 18-year-old Eagle Scout, Kenji Mikesell, explained his decision to wear his uniform saying, “"It's kind of a way of saying we want you here. 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."

Pride celebrations are increasingly becoming a time for people of all faiths to come out in support of LGBT members of our faith communities.

Erika Munson, founder and organizer for Mormons Building Bridges spoke about their group’s support for the LGBT community saying, “We’re here to support our gay family… It’s an inclusive thing. The family is central to God’s eternal plan for happiness."  Pride is a time to embrace and celebrate diversity in our faith families, scout troops, and broader communities, for “in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

Filed under: Religion & Faith, Community

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