On the 24th of July, the state of Utah will celebrate the settling of the Salt Lake Valley. After months of trudging across the plains to escape injustice, facing famine and death along the way, the Mormon pioneers gazed across the valley as Brigham Young famously declared, "This is the place." But is it the place for everyone?
The theme of this year’s Pioneer Day is "Pushing Toward Our Future," but as we so often see with regards to civil rights in this country, it seems as though history is repeating itself. While the state of Utah fights tooth and nail in our courts to divide families, the annual celebration of our state’s founding has made a very clear statement; "We’re pushing toward our future, not yours."
The Days of ’47 parade is operated by a private organization. They have no legal obligation to include anyone. However, their last-minute amendment of the rules to specifically exclude Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall’s chosen guest, a member of the LGBT community, paints a clear picture of the spirit of bad faith surrounding these decisions.
The Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission has unanimously decided not to walk in the Days of ’47 parade this year. We cannot in good conscience support this culture of exclusion. We strive to represent all citizens of Salt Lake City, and we hope to see this dialogue continue. On the 24th of July, we will join our LDS friends in celebrating the settling of the Salt Lake Valley — but we’ll be celebrating with the LGBT community, too. This is the place for all of us.
Salt Lake City
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