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Editorial: With liberty comes controversy, Days of ‘47

Days of ’47 won’t escape controversy.

First Published Jun 06 2014 04:16 pm • Last Updated Jun 06 2014 04:16 pm

Interesting week for the American Civil Liberties Union. The Utah Chapter was backing a gay-friendly same-sex marriage decision on appeal as it slapped down Salt Lake City’s attempt to back a gay-friendly group’s participation in the Days of ’47 Parade.

The ACLU rightly maintained its contrarian status by telling the city council that it shouldn’t be sending out letters on official stationery telling the parade folks to let Mormons Building Bridges have a parade entry. Days of ’47 is a private organization, and its city-issued parade permit does not and should not give the city control over who marches.

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The ACLU points out that individual council members are free to act and speak their consciences on Days of ’47’s decisions (and some of them have), but they can’t bring the power of their offices to bear.

For their part, parade organizers are trying hard to not take sides and simply say they’re not the venue for "controversy," which is how they view an organization that has this as its mission statement on its web site: "In accordance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Mormons Building Bridges is dedicated to conveying love and acceptance to same-sex attracted and LGBTQI individuals and asserts that all our sisters and brothers are inherently worthy of love and belonging in our homes, congregations, and communities."

Mormons Building Bridges hasn’t even taken a position on same-sex marriage. "MBB participates in the political process when opportunities present themselves that have the support of our members and do not oppose the LDS church’s position," the site says.

Not exactly radical.

The ACLU is right that it’s the parade’s call, not the city’s, but organizers are dreaming if they think seagulls will descend each summer to pick the parade clean of controversy. Parade organizers denied Equal Rights Amendment supporters in the ’70s and ’80s and allowed and then denied the Budweiser Clydesdales in the ’90s, among many others. They even briefly took on the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers in 1991 when they tried to ban handcarts. MBB is just the latest in a long line.

So Days of ’47 has the right to make this call, but it still looks like a blown opportunity. Here’s guessing MMB would get similar cheers on Pioneer Day to what they’ll get at this weekend’s Pride Parade.

At the very least, maybe they should look to a friend who helped them out. How about an ACLU float?

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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