Two dudes wearing black vinyl bondage suits and horse-head masks pulled carts down Fourth Avenue, and then, there they were: missionaries. In ties, smiling and waving. But the "mission" for the first Mormon contingent in Seattle's Gay Pride Parade was not to win converts, exactly, but to repent for the sins of their church.
"I feel terrible as a Mormon," said Sara Long, who organized the 60-person group. The Mormon presidency asked members to "do all you can" four years ago to pass Prop 8 in California, which resulted in $20 million influx of Mormon cash and voters nixing the state's gay-marriage law. "I want to say that I am really sorry, that I will do everything I can to fight for your rights," said Long, who is straight and married, as she pushed her son in a stroller. "And this is how we can undo it, by fighting for civil rights now."
One of the swell guys in a tie, Scott Holly, lives in Mt. Vernon and he opposed same-sex marriage until recently. But a family member came out of the closet, so he made today's event his first-ever appearance at pride parade. "There are some Mormons who believe in LGBT equality and are willing to reach out," he said.
Mormons for the 'mos.
Decrees against gay marriage aren't even part of the formal religion, these Mormons told me. Only the scriptures are canon, not anti-gay proclamations from church presidents. They also pointed out that one of the church's doctrines says it is unjust to "to mingle religious influence with civil government."
"People say, 'You're doing PR for Mitt Romney or doing PR for the Mormon Church,'" Long volunteered. "That's not true."
But what about the nagging suspicion that this is part of the Mormon PR machine (like the persistent "I am a Mormon" ads), trying to inoculate progressives when Romney is running as the first Mormon presidential candidate?
Long is voting for Obama, she insisted. As she put it, the tipping point has come and gone for gay marriage—with polls now showing more than half of Americans support it—making holdouts like Romney part of a shrinking minority. "Romney is in a real bad place, isn't he?"