Official Statement regarding Freedom Festival

The Utah Stonewall Democrats are extremely outraged by the decision of the America’s Freedom Festival to exclude five LGBTQIA+ groups from participating in Provo’s July 4 parade, only hours after festival organizers and the City of Provo inked a nondiscrimination deal.

The Freedom Festival’s stated mission is to “celebrate, teach, honor, and strengthen the traditional American values of God, family, freedom, and country.” The groups that were rejected by them — Encircle: LGBTQ Family & Youth Resource Center, Mormons Building Bridges, Provo Pride, PFLAG Provo/Utah County, and Queer Meals — live up to those values, each in their own special and unique way. They celebrate families and act as an invaluable support to those who are struggling — true beacons of light and hope.

More importantly, rejecting these groups is like rejecting every LGBTQ person. We are deeply saddened by that. Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican - Utah) spoke passionately on the Senate floor Wednesday about LGBT suicide. “No one should ever feel less because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support. They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them,” said Hatch. “These young people need us — and we desperately need them. We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty, and brilliance they bring to the world.” We couldn’t agree more with Senator Hatch’s statement. In a divisive and complicated world, this is something that all can agree on regardless of party affiliation. LGBTQ people, especially youth, deserve all the love and support we can muster.

We believe that everyone is blessed with innate goodness. That includes those who are behind the Freedom Festival. We plead for them to dig down into their souls, grab hold of that goodness, and right this terrible wrong. It could be a golden opportunity to bring all sides together as we celebrate America, a nation that was built on diversity and is stronger as a result. 

In his farewell address on January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower urged Americans to “live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.” The timeless values of respect, love, civility, freedom, and equality are part of what makes America so great — and it is our fervent hope that they will win out. The Utah Stonewall Democrats unequivocally stand in support of LGBTQ Utahns.

 

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LGBT Organizations

For political, social, support, and other events, please check the following sites:

Utah Pride Center

Equality Utah

Utah Democratic Party

Restore Our Humanity

Utah AIDS Foundation

Southern Utah Stonewall Democrats

The Cole Project