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Provo City and Freedom Festival sign non-discrimination clause agreement

PROVO (News4Utah)- Under a new agreement, all groups are welcome to participate in Provo's American Freedom Festival.

Wednesday, festival organizers and Provo City signed a new agreement that incorporates "non-discrimination language".

Under the clause, Provo City says they will "not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status in any of its applicable activities in violation of federal, state or local laws."

Although event organizers say they still have "discretion to include or exclude organizations, groups etc" if they do not "[align] with the theme, mission, and values of the Festival'.

In the past, several LGBTQ groups have been excluded from participating.

Provo Deputy Mayor says Isaac Paxman says the clause isn't much different than the employers who can refuse to hire someone.

"Similarly, this clause doesn’t give anyone a right to be in the parade. An employer can turn you down for having gunk in your teeth, no matter what your race or religion is. The parade can turn you down because they want more bagpipes this year or because they think your float is ugly—or for all kinds of other reasons."

He says applying to be in the parade now is "sort of like applying for the post office".

See his remaining statement below:


What Provo has for the first time ensured, though, and we feel good about this, is that the parade can’t deny applicants based on their religion, race, sexual orientation, and so on. In other words, applying to be in the parade is now sort of like applying for the post office, in that you can’t get turned down for one of those reasons. These kinds of provisions don’t mean you’ll for sure get a job or be in the parade, but they do say you won’t be excluded on grounds the law has chosen to protect.  


We think the change makes good sense. And the freedom festival has embraced all of this. They are on board with it. 


And this might be a good time to mention the mayor’s appreciation for the freedom festival overall. What other city or region has the citizens to pull this off? The volunteer hours are staggering. We applaud those who had the initial vision that has led to what we enjoy today. And the mayor wants to thank the legions of volunteers who’ve helped build it up. It’s a remarkable organization that does amazing things to celebrate causes our citizens hold dear. We hope the freedom festival moves forward now on even more solid ground. 


As far as what entries will be in the parade, that’s up to the parade folks themselves. Have we encouraged them to try to find ways to be inclusive of groups like Encircle? Yes. We appreciate that they’ve engaged in dialogue with some of these groups to try to find ways to be inclusive of them. We hope they’ll have a mindset that Encircle, in particular, ended up in an awkward position last year with the last-minute change. So let’s look at how we can turn that into a positive for the group itself, for the parade, and for the community. Is there an approach that lifts us all? We’ve tried to help them look for positive outcomes like that. And I should say, we do think that there is a lot of good and important work these groups like Encircle are trying to do. The freedom festival folks seem to feel the same.

In a turn of events Wednesday evening, the Freedom Festival reportedly denied several LGBTQ groups who applied to be apart of the parade. 

Equality Utah responded with the following statement: 

“The disconnect between the Freedom Festival’s word and action is as astonishing as it is disappointing,” said executive director Troy Williams, “The organizers of the festival need to ask themselves: do they support liberty and justice for All, or just some? The Fourth of July is a celebration for all Americans — including LGBTQ Utahns. We have fought hard to earn the rights and privileges of citizenship. This staggering bigotry is unbecoming of both Provo and Utah." 

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