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Utah County Will Fund Freedom Festival As Long As Money Is Not Used To Discriminate


The Utah County Commission voted to again fund the annual Independence Day celebration in Provo this year but added a non-discrimination clause. This distinction comes after the festival excluded an LGBT group last year.

Last year, the Freedom Festival organizers made a last minute decision to exclude the LGBT group Encircle from the parade on July Fourth. The group had previously been approved to participate.


That controversy caused the Utah County Commission to reevaluate public funding for the event. And so this year, along with $100,000, comes a clause stating the money cannot be used to discriminate.


The unique thing about America is our ability to be a melting pot, to come together," said County Commissioner Nathan Ivie. "To learn from our past errors and find ways to reach the American ideal that was framed from the founders of this nation.”


Speaking to the commission last week, the director of the Freedom Festival, Paul Warner, admitted that what happened last year was a mistake. But he also said that allowing groups like Encircle to participate in the parade leaves them open to activist groups.


"Do you want gun control people running up and down?" Warner said. "That’s one of the issues we’re dealing with now.”


Even with the non-discrimination clause, it’s unclear if the selection process for the parade will be any different this year.


The festival also received $100,000 dollars from Utah’s Legislature this session.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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