Provo and Freedom Festival sign contract with new non-discrimination clause

KUTV Provo Parade 070417.JPG
FILE -{ }Provo City announced Wednesday that it is continuing its partnership with America's Freedom Festival with a new contract that contains a non-discrimination clause. (FILE Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — Provo City announced Wednesday that it is continuing its partnership with America's Freedom Festival with a new contract that contains a non-discrimination clause.

The contact came after months of dialogue and a cooperative effort, which included an evaluation of the parade to incorporate best practices and adhere to legal requirements, a press release said.

The contract reads in part, and can be read in its entirety in the enclosure below:

[The Freedom Festival] agrees not to and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status in any of its applicable activities in violation of federal, state or local laws.

The Daily Herald reported that Provo’s current contract with the festival outlines $75,000 cash contributions and $75,000 of in-kind contributions in exchange for the economic benefit the festival has on the city.

This newly signed contract will terminate on June 30, 2019, and will be up for renegotiation, the published account reported.

"Provo is known for its spirit of volunteerism, and the Freedom Festival is a shining example of what ordinary citizens can do when they dedicate their time and energy to a good cause," stated Provo City in a press release. "The festival shines a spotlight on America's strengths in a remarkable way, with some of that light shining worldwide as military personnel are given the option to tune in to the festivities."

The conclusion of the Provo City release stated that Utah County's largest city looks forward to "many more years of celebrating freedom and patriotism here in Provo."

Provo's deputy mayor also released a statement in response to inquires about the clause. Isaac Paxman specified that in the employment world, anti-discrimination clauses don't give people the right to be hired. Similarly, Paxman said in the statement, 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," Paxman said. "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."

However, Paxman said the city had, "for the first time," ensured that the parade cannot deny applicants based on things like religion, race or sexual orientation.

The provisions don't guarantee a potential participant will be allowed in the parade, Paxman said, "but they do say you won't be excluded on grounds the law has chosen to protect.

"We think the change makes good sense," Paxman said. "And the freedom festival has embraced all of this. They are on board with it."

As far as what entries will be allowed in the parade, Paxman said "that's up to the parade folks themselves."

Citing LGBTQ+ youth support group Encircle specifically, Paxman said the city has encouraged organizers to try to find ways to be inclusive, and said it "appreciates that they've engaged in dialogue with some of these groups to try to find ways to be inclusive."

"We hope they’ll have a mindset that Encircle, in particular, ended up in an awkward position last year with the last-minute change," Paxman said. "So let’s look at how we can turn that into a positive for the group itself, for the parade, and for the community."

Paxman said he and the city think the work groups like Encircle are trying to do is "good and important."

"The freedom festival folks seem to feel the same," he said.

Read Paxman's full statement: