Wednesday, June 4, 2014

SLC Council Called out for Influencing Days of '47 Parade to Include Gay Mormon Group

by Brig Bagley

4 June 2014

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has called out Salt Lake City Council for attempting to ask organizers of the Days of '47 Parade (Utah's biggest parade on Pioneer Day) to reverse their decision to deny Mormons Building Bridges (MBB), a group of Mormons advocating rights and acceptance for LGBT people, from participating in the parade.

The ACLU states, "After all, the First Amendment is at its strongest and is most important when protecting speech that the government disapproves of or that is otherwise controversial." Since the parade is a privately organized and sponsored event, government--even if it disagrees--must not use its power to influence it. 

It is good to hear that the SLC Council wishes to push the growing acceptance of LGBT people, and it is also sad that parade organizers are not willing to recognize the LGBT pioneers in the state that have struggled for so long (and clearly still do). But, if the government were to intervene with all private events to push its perspective, we wouldn't be a free, let alone free-speech country. The ACLU is correct in its statement.

SLC councilors said that the letter intended to parade organizers was not meant to be a heavy-handed order or a threat. But using official letterhead that mentions municipal code was reaching a little too far. Not attending the event would be a perfectly appropriate method of protest, said ACLU. I advocate that each council member could have sent private non-official letters to the organizers as well. Or even encouraging like-minded citizens to join together in writing a mass of letters to let MBB into the parade.

It's not likely that MBB will be seen in the parade on July 24th. But, this weekend, they will be marching in the Gay Pride Parade in downtown SLC at 10am, June 8. 

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