Utah organization excludes LGBT groups from July 4 parade

June 14, 2018 - 6:03 pm

PROVO, Utah (AP) — Five LGBT support organizations that were denied access to a prominent Utah July Fourth parade criticized event organizers Thursday for blocking them from participating hours after signing a nondiscrimination agreement with Provo city leaders.

Amid the outcry, which included the Utah County Commission chairman threatening to rescind $100,000 in funding, organizers with the America's Freedom Festival offered to let the groups amend their applications and submit them again.

Festival organizers said 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 did not meet. 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.

The event had been criticized for blocking participation by LGBT groups in the past.

On Tuesday, organizers signed a nondiscrimination agreement with Provo leaders as part of a contract that will send $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.

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 "is as astonishing as it is disappointing."

County Commission Chairman Nathan Ivie said on Twitter that he will try to pull funding for the organization. "I didn't think somebody would be stupid enough to do what they did. But they apparently did it," he said at a news conference Thursday.

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said her office would need to examine whether the festival had violated terms of its contract. She said the two sides should work out an arrangement to allow the LGBT groups to participate.

The city's chief administrative officer, Wayne Parker, suggested during a discussion streamed on Facebook that the city was committed to financially supporting the festival this year.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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