LGBT community joined by hundreds of LDS Church members in parade

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Iverson family spends most Sunday afternoons at an LDS Church meetinghouse in Highland, singing hymns, reading scriptures and discussing the teachings of Jesus Christ.

This week, Greg Iverson said he felt it was important for his family to be in downtown Salt Lake City to "live those teachings and show our love and support" for Utah's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Greg and Vickie Iverson and their 17-year-old son, Cade, were among the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints, many dressed in their Sunday best, who marched in the Utah Pride Parade.

Assembled behind a white banner with the message "Mormons Building Bridges" in black, block letters, the group of roughly 350 marched west along 200 South to show their love for their LGBT "brothers and sisters."

"Christ loves everybody," Iverson said. "We're all God's children."

The annual parade is the highlight event of the Utah Pride Festival, a celebration of diversity and individuality that attracted tens of thousands of people to Washington Square between Friday and Sunday.

In 2008, the LDS Church released a document called "The Divine Institution of Marriage," explaining that the church opposes same-sex marriage but does not object to rights regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing or employment rights — "so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference."

It was so touching walking along and having people tell us 'thank you' when it was our pleasure.

–- Kim Turner, parade participant

The church also opposes "any kind of hostility" toward the LGBT community, according to the statement. "Protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not affect church members' Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people."

Terry Turner and his wife, Kim, of Draper said they learned from a Facebook post that a group of LDS members planned to march in the parade. And they wanted to be a part of it.

"We are huge supporters of human rights, civil rights," he said. "We decided this was something we wanted to express."

The group of Mormons marching Sunday actually grew along the parade route, Kim Turner said, as Mormons who had been parade spectators joined in.

"They didn't know about the group (before the parade)," she said. "They saw us and joined us."

Kim Turner said she was a little nervous about what kind of reaction the group would get in the parade because the LDS Church supports traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and the church encouraged members to support Proposition 8 in California defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

"We thought their might be some animosity toward us, but it was the opposite," she said. "It was so touching. It was very emotional. We saw many people crying along the (parade) route."

She, too, was in tears for most of the parade.

"It was so touching walking along and having people tell us 'thank you' when it was our pleasure," she said. "This was a labor of love, nothing more than that. It wasn't about politics. It was about love."


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