Following outcry, America’s Freedom Festival organizers to allow LGBT groups in parade

In this June 2018 file photo, Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie speaks as he holds the American flag during a news conference to discuss the America's Freedom Festival and participation by LGBT groups, June 14, 2018, Provo, Utah. | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Organizers of a prominent Utah Fourth of July festival struck a deal Thursday to allow five LGBT organizations to participate in the festival’s parade, reversing an initial rejection given just hours after signing a nondiscrimination agreement with Provo city leaders.

The deal followed an outcry that included the Utah County Commission chairman threatening to rescind $100,000 in funding and an LGBT group leader denouncing festival organizers as showing “staggering bigotry.”

People hold signs during a news conference to discuss the America’s Freedom Festival and participation by LGBT groups, June 14, 2018, Provo, Utah. | Associated Press photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

America’s Freedom Festival didn’t immediately comment on the deal. But a member of the festival’s board of trustees agreed to pay for a float hosting three of the groups, said Kendall Wilcox, a member of Mormons Building Bridges. The two other organizations will march with a quilt that Wilcox said represents different versions of Utah families.

Festival organizers said earlier that the five LGBT organizations were among 22 applications denied for failing to meet its specific requirements. Two of the groups had filed a joint application.

It’s unclear which requirements the groups had not met. Festival organizers said participants cannot touch on political or social issues and must focus their applications on the spirit of patriotism.

“Let’s celebrate America pure and simple,” festival director Paul Warner said in a statement after the rejections were announced.

The event had been criticized for blocking participation by LGBT groups in the past, but Wednesday’s outcry noted the festival had signed a contract Tuesday with Provo city leaders that included a new nondiscrimination agreement. As part of the contract, the city agreed to provide $150,000 in cash and in-kind contributions for the festival.

Organizers had also signed a separate contract with Utah County in March that included a nondiscrimination clause. The contract stipulates county contributions of roughly $100,000 for the event.

After the applications were rejected Wednesday, Troy Williams, the executive director of advocacy group Equality Utah, accused organizers of “staggering bigotry” and said in a statement that the disconnect between their words and actions was “astonishing as it is disappointing.”

Utah County Commission Chairman Nathan Ivie said on Twitter that he would try to pull funding for the organization.

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi had urged the two sides to work together on an arrangement to allow the LGBT groups to participate. The theme of the float agreed to Thursday is “Utah’s LGBT community celebrates America: United we stand.”

The emotional two-hour meeting Thursday involved tears, yelling and deeply painful stories, Wilcox said.

“I’m sort of in shock and pleasantly surprised at how much ground we actually covered,” he said.

Written by JULIAN HATTEM, Associated Press

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Brian June 15, 2018 at 11:45 am

    How about the other 18 applications that were rejected? Do they get to march now, too? The is the same kind of “equality” we see in “Animal Farm”, with the line “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” We’ve gone from actual oppression right passed “equal” to special treatment. Just like feminism where equal isn’t enough, we have to hate all white men. Whatever.

    • ladybugavenger June 15, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      I agree. Went right past equality to special treatment.

    • Utahguns June 15, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      How about calling it the “No Filter” parade? I’m sure they would love the opportunity to have a gathering where, anything goes, anything is said and anything is done.

      As the article states: “The theme of the float agreed to Thursday is “Utah’s LGBT community celebrates America: United we stand.”
      That statement completely misrepresents what’s actually going on…groups like this aren’t uniting America, if anything they’re causing the increasing divisive and revolting effect on this country.

      • Southpaw June 15, 2018 at 2:41 pm

        I believe “No Filter” went back to West Hollywood where he came from.

        • No Filter June 15, 2018 at 4:09 pm

          Actually I grew up in rural Ohio. I only lived in California while I was stationed there in the early 2000’s.

          • Tyler June 15, 2018 at 8:14 pm

            Rural Ohio.. full of queers and steers. You pick which one no filter fits into

          • No Filter June 16, 2018 at 8:07 am

            If your going to make a joke, do us all a favor and get it right. The queers and steers joke refers to Texas not Ohio. Go rewatch full metal jacket and try another joke.

    • No Filter June 15, 2018 at 4:07 pm

      I think we need to know why the others were denied being in the parade before we can jump to conclusions about special treatment. The article states “Festival organizers said earlier that the five LGBT organizations were among 22 applications denied for failing to meet its specific requirements.” If they were given permission to be in the parade then they must have met these requirements.

  • Real Life June 15, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    THIS is what they will never ever get. THIS is what drives people away from their cause. They have their parade, and it’s all good. But that will never be good enough. For some reason they feel they need to be in your face, all the time.

    • Striker4 June 15, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      Oh wow you just described yourself….!

      • Real Life June 16, 2018 at 10:54 am

        Wow. I know you are but what am I? Seriously dude, get off the dope. It’s making you look really, really stupid.

      • John June 16, 2018 at 6:08 pm

        strikeout, did your parents have any kids that lived?

  • JOSH DALTON June 15, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    If its about equality then the KKK should get to march to…oh wait its Provo, the Mormons are already in the parade. Its a gosh darn parade. I’m pretty sure the Boy Scouts are marching so the LGBTQRSTV are already in the darn parade. Its entertainment for kids and families and now its turned into some type of political agenda! This crap is getting to be about as ludicrous as most of my comments! GO FALCONS!

  • Craig June 15, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    No one can be rejected in the further because any type of values are discriminatory.

    They and the liberal “progressives” are getting what they want, taking us to the lowest common denominator possible – no values.

    • jaybird June 15, 2018 at 9:47 pm

      Sorry, Craig, you’ve already met that criteria by you comment. Hate much?

  • tazzman June 15, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    There is nothing uniting about empowering smaller and smaller groups along differences.

  • Tyler June 15, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    Another example of LGBT screaming Discrimination when they didn’t get their way. Ridiculous.

  • John June 15, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    America’s Freedom Festival is NOT a LGBTQXYZ event. Festival organizers to allow LGBT groups to participate. If they should to start to behave like it is, they should be asked to leave just like if the KKK shows up with their hoods would be.

    • No Filter June 16, 2018 at 8:09 am

      That would be true except the KKK doesn’t wear hoods anymore they wear business suits.

      • John June 16, 2018 at 11:54 am

        nobody asked you PUTZ!

      • Tyler June 16, 2018 at 1:06 pm

        And are raised in Ohio, than “stationed” in California.

  • Mike P June 16, 2018 at 10:23 am

    I think I’m gunna have a beer. Anyone?

  • Sara June 17, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    Really? I can’t believe the comments here. Once again, Who cares who’s in the freaking parade.
    It really doesn’t matter. And why rip on where the No Filter Guy is from?!
    It’s like you people have nothing better to do but complain.
    Here’s a thought. If you gripe about only one thing maybe people will listen. If you gripe about EVERYTHING people don’t take your oppinion into consideration.
    Did your Mama ever tell you to Pick your battles?
    I want to know if you hate everyone or you just happen to hate everyone on this feed and in this article.
    So sad.

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