SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Devout Latter-day Saints are dressing up in their Sunday best clothing to march in a gay pride parade this Sunday.
The Latter-day Saints will carry their scriptures and hold up quotes from church leaders about messages of love and acceptance.
The Pride Center of Utah says other Latter-day Saint groups comprised of members who experience same-sex attractions, but not formally recognized by the Church, have marched in the parade; however this is the first time members with no strong connections to the pride community have gathered together to march on their own.
Erika Munson organized the grassroots group called "Mormons Building Bridges" on Facebook about three weeks ago. Today more than 900 people have joined the social networking group.
She says gay pride festival organizers welcomed her with open arms when she request to march. She expects about 100 people to march in her group.
"What we're trying to do is say we welcome you. We want you to be part of our congregation. We want you to feel safe in our pews," Munson said.
She is also sending a clear message to other Latter-day Saints. "We want people in wards all over the world to see us and say these folks are just like me," said Munson.
The temple going, tithing paying, faithful who say they believe President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God; want to share a message. "We have been getting messages from our church leaders about reaching out with love, about never supporting bulling, about being loving and kind to LGBT people," said Munson.
Latter-day Saints only support marriage between a man and woman, but they also say they love those who support same sex marriage. Jay Vann who is an active Latter-day Saint from Murray is thrilled about Latter-day Saints joining the gay pride parade.
"By marching in the parade it doesn't mean that we have to move from our stance whether it's right or wrong, but these are our brothers and sisters these are our friends our cousin. I think by marching with them I think what were saying is they deserve to be treated like human beings," Vann said.
Latter-day Saint marchers are also reaching out to LDS gay teens in Utah, struggling to find an identity, who may be struggling to find a place to belong.
"We want gay Mormon youth to see us and to have hope and to think maybe there is somebody in my ward I can turn to," Munson said.
Click on the attached links for more information about the Pride Festival in Salt Lake City this weekend and for more information about the Church's officials stance and attitudes about same gender attraction.