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Kelsey Brunner, KSL, File

Previously rejected LGBTQ groups will be included in Freedom Festival parade

By Linda Williams, and Jacob Klopfenstein,  |  Posted Jun 14th, 2018 @ 6:38pm



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PROVO — Five LGBTQ groups that initially were not approved to participate in the Freedom Festival Parade now will be included.

Freedom Festival officials will be including five LGBTQ groups in the July 4 parade and will be working with each of the groups to provide them a float, Freedom Festival spokesman Paul Warner said in an emailed statement Thursday evening.

"It is a win-win," Warner said.

In an email statement, Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said she was thankful that a compromise had been reached.

"I’m thrilled that the Freedom Festival and LGBT groups have been able to come to a compromise on parade entries," Kaufusi said. "When I heard that they had been outright denied, I said that we can do better. This feels better.

Earlier on Thursday, festival officials announced that applicants, including several LGBTQ groups, who were denied participation in this year's Provo Freedom Festival parade would be allowed to adjust their applications and reapply.

The five groups were Encircle, Mormons Building Bridges, Provo Pride, Queer Meals, and Provo PFlag, according to a statement from Freedom Festival officials.

All parade applications are judged on the same entry requirements, festival officials said in an emailed statement. Of the 120 applications, 22 were denied, including those from four LGBTQ groups, because they were deemed outside the parameters of the parade guidelines, the statement added.

"We again invite all these groups to adjust their entries to meet Parade requirements and to reapply for this year’s event," the press release stated.

The LGBTQ groups said Thursday their parade applications already met the mission of the America’s Freedom Festival Grand Parade.

Troy Williams, executive director for Equality Utah, called the initial decision to reject the applications discrimination on Wednesday.

Provo city officials are discussing questions pertaining to the Freedom Festival Parade.

The groups were invited to reapply and to focus on the parade's theme, Freedom Festival officials said earlier Thursday. The parade is focused on celebrating America's independence and not on special interest groups, festival officials said in the statement.

They acknowledged the importance of the LGBTQ groups.

"During the last year we have learned much about the encouraging things that many of these groups are doing and the positive impact they are having on many lives in our community," festival officials said.

On Wednesday, the Freedom Festival entered into a new non-discrimination agreement with Provo City. The agreement incorporated non-discrimination language into the festival's contract with the city, according to an emailed statement from Provo Deputy Mayor Isaac Paxman.

As part of the agreement, the Freedom Festival "evaluated and refined" certain aspects of the parade, according to Paxman.

"Their effort has been to maintain a high-quality parade while ensuring best practices are followed and that both the spirit and letter of legal restrictions are followed," Paxman said in the statement.

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