Sen. Jim Dabakis blew it this week by opting out of marching in the Days of '47 Parade. He gave his reasons on Tuesday:
"Given the controversy over 'Mormons Building Bridges' (a group I love and admire), I have decided that there is the possibility that my participation might divert attention away from the heroes of the parade, the thousands of volunteers who work so hard for so long to make this a one of America's great parades."
Dabakis, of course, was referring to the parade committee's barring of MBB from marching because they feared its participation would trigger a controversy and, worse, critical thinking. Of course, their decision itself created controversy, with the SLC Council pressuring parade organizers to allow the pro-gay-rights Mormon group to march. Then, the ACLU told the city to butt out because barring the Bridges group was the First Amendment right of the Days o' '47 organizers.
Pushing towards the future.
Dabakis, apparently disagreeing with the ACLU, lauded the council's "bold and valiant efforts" and especially Councilman Kyle LaMafa for inviting Dabakis to march in the parade at his side. "I hope one year, soon, we will be able to come together as a community."
But Dabakis should have marched with LaMafa. It likely would have been the first time a significant part of the spectators (attendance roughly 2/3 of the population of the Intermountain West) laid eyes on an honest-to-god gay man. More importantly, everyone would have seen hard evidence of the LGBT community's commitment to American culture and politics—even unto the level of Utah state senators.
Obviously, the Days of '47 Parade is already kind of gay.
And, yes, it would have been fun to watch the Deseret Newsand KSL, which broadcasts the splendorous event, bending over backwards to avoid getting a gay in their shots.
Ironically, the parade's theme this year is "Pioneers: Pushing Towards Our Future," a slogan that works even better for the LGBT community, which I'm sure was well represented among the 1847 arrivals.