PROVO — The same day that America's Freedom Festival in Provo adopted a nondiscrimination policy, four LGBTQ groups say they were denied registration to participate in the event's Fourth of July parade.
Troy Williams, executive director for Equality Utah, said Provo PFlag, Provo Pride, Mormons Building Bridges and the Encircle House were rejected Wednesday when they tried to sign up for the event.
"It's against the best values of our nation," Williams said.
An application from Encircle House was also denied last year.
Wednesday morning, Provo city officials announced they had signed a new contract with America's Freedom Festival that included a nondiscrimination clause.
"As part of this process, the Freedom Festival has evaluated and refined several elements pertaining to the parade. 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," city officials said in a press release.
An additional news release from event officials announcing the parade's grand marshals and other participants said that upon review, "22 applications were deemed outside the parameters of the parade guidelines. All have been invited to participate and serve as volunteers in the parade and other Freedom Festival events."
Williams says the disconnect between the words and actions of parade and city officials is "astonishing."
Deputy Mayor of Provo Isaac Paxman issued a statement Wednesday night regarding the issue, saying nondiscrimination clauses prohibit applicants from being rejected based on factors like religion, race and sexual orientation, but that such clauses don't guarantee anyone acceptance to a job "or a parade."
"In the employment world, anti-discrimination clauses don't give anyone a right to be hired. 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 wrote.
Williams and Equality Utah called the decision discrimination.
"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," Williams said.
Correction: A typo in an earlier version incorrectly identified the group Mormons Building Bridges as Mormons Building Brides.