Compromise allows LGBTQ groups in Provo parade

Jun 14, 2018, 9:43 PM | Updated: Jun 15, 2018, 12:18 pm

PROVO, Utah – Amid growing controversy, organizers of Provo’s Fourth of July parade announced late Thursday that a compromise had been reached to allow five LGBTQ groups to participate.

“The applications we got needed to be reworked to come into the focus of the July Fourth mission that the festival has,” said Paul Warner with America’s Freedom Festival at Provo. “They were willing to do that and that made all the difference.”

Warner called the agreement a “win-win” and said it would work with the groups to provide them with a float.

An aerial view of the 2017 Fourth of July parade put on by America’s Freedom Festival at Provo.

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

The Freedom Festival originally said the five LGBTQ group’s applications were denied because they did not meet specific requirements. The decision sparked criticism.

“The Fourth of July is a celebration for all Americans — including LGBTQ Utahns,” Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams said in a press release after learning that the groups were denied entry to the parade. “We have fought hard to earn the rights and privileges of citizenship. This staggering bigotry is unbecoming of both Provo and Utah.”

Representatives from five LGBTQ groups that were denied entry to the parade held a press conference Thursday morning.

Freedom Festival officials invited the LGBTQ groups to their headquarters Thursday afternoon to discuss their applications. Two hours later, the groups emerged saying the meeting had been tense but productive.

“We really negotiated in good faith on all sides,” said Kendall Wilcox with Mormons Building Bridges. “There are still hurt feelings on all sides but we did reach a compromise. All the LGBT groups will be represented in the parade.”

In addition to Mormons Building Bridges, the other groups that originally had their parade entries denied include: Encircle, Provo Pride, Queer Meals, and Provo PFlag.

“I think though they are more open to being accepting to us now, the hurt’s still there,” said Jordan Sgro, the chief program officer at Encircle. “I do think this meeting was a little healing for us, and I think it will take more and more and more of this.”

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Compromise allows LGBTQ groups in Provo parade