SALT LAKE CITY – Organizers for the Days of 47 Parade have denied an application for an entry submitted by a group that aims to improve relations between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the LGBT community.
The vehicle entry from Mormons Building Bridges was going to be a convertible with people aboard who are a part of the LGBT community and who have a pioneer heritage and ties to the LDS Church.
Kendall Wilcox, co-chair of Mormons Building Bridges, said they worked carefully to submit an entry that they believed would meet the parade’s requirements, but he said they were still told their idea was "too political and too controversial."
“We were very circumspect on how we created our parade entry, and our application, to make sure that we were aligning as fully as possible with both the aims, the missions and the guidelines of the parade itself but also with their theme this year, which is talking about progress, pioneers being progress into the future, which we think our entry was perfectly in line with that theme."
Wilcox said they knew it was a possibility they'd be denied, based on the denials given to other organizations in the past, but he said, "we really genuinely thought this was the right year, this was the right time, this was the right theme, and that we were going to be able to contribute to this parade."
Greg James, executive vice president with Days of 47 Incorporated, said that any float involving advocacy is denied regardless of the issue being advocated.
“We don’t take things that are controversial, that have advocacy in them, like political campaigns, political issues, Second Amendment issues--if its advocacy you won't be allowed in,” he said.
James said they try to keep the parade focused on the pioneers.
"The message of the parade is about honoring the pioneers and the people who founded the state," he said. "And anything that distracts from that message, or has a tendency to obscure that message, it just isn't consistent with our mission. The second issue is that because we've drawn a really bright line on advocacy, at the end of the day: Once you let one in, regardless of how benign it seems, then you have no standing to deny others."
James said if you let one advocacy group in, then you have to allow the counterpoint space as well, and he said that would lead to politicians and political groups all seeking entry to the parade.
Wilcox said they asked event organizers to engage in a deeper dialogue about the refusal, but he said that request was denied. He said they hoped to show event organizers the group isn't about controversy, but rather about building bridges.
James said the parade is only seeking to maintain its focus on the pioneers who settled the state.
"Now, that it isn't to say that the message of all of those people [advocacy groups or politicians] isn't perfectly valid and they don't have a right to do it: it's just the wrong venue," he said.