John Daley Reporting"It's so much more than about gay. It's about rights. It's about people having the ability to have the same rights that anyone else can have."
The annual gay pride parade takes to the streets of Utah's capitol city with a mix of entertainment and politics. Utah's Gay Pride Week culminated today with a parade and festival in downtown Salt Lake City. The event comes after a year in which gay marriage and efforts to stop it became a hot-button political issue.
Though this event has grown considerably in recent years, the main message has stayed basically the same, organizers and participants say all they want is equal rights. Anyone who ever thought conservative Utah is an unlikely place to find a large and vibrant gay community, clearly has never been to the annual gay pride parade.
A decade ago this event boasted numbers in the hundreds, but it's grown exponentially since then. Still, it mixes the flamboyant with the ordinary and many participants say they're here to make a personal statement.
Brett Worthen, Logan Resident: "Message is just stating my place here. I'm gay and I'm in Utah. And I love Utah and I love this."
Christy Jackman, Salt Lake City Resident: “Support, awareness. My friends are here, my family is here.”
But this past year the personal became increasingly political with gay rights increasingly a front line issue in America's culture wars. In Massachusetts gay marriage became legal, then Utah and ten other states passed amendments to make same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
Despite that, many here say they remain determined and are sharpening their message to focus on the principle of equality.
Jere Keys, Event Organizer: "We basically framed the whole gay marriage issue wrong and we'd like to find a new way of presenting it. That's part of our theme this year, no more, no less. We're not asking for anything special, we're just asking to be treated equally under the law."
Bruce Bastian, Board Member, Human Rights Campaign: "We want to be equal. We're not asking for anything special. We're just asking for the right to be who we are."
Official crowd estimates are hard to come by and hard for us to confirm, but organizers say this event was their largest ever, matching or surpassing last year's.