I’m speechless … the Church doesn’t have to recognize gay marriages if they don’t want to, but to have security guards assault a gay couple for a quick peck on the cheek on the thoroughfare through the property?
I’ve kissed a woman to whom I am not married inside the Temple ground gates, in the Tabernacle, and in the Conference Center, in sight of the greeters and tour guides. No one said a word. This is not about public displays of affection, but about harassment of gay and lesbian people.
A gay couple says they were detained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints security guards after one man kissed another on the cheek Thursday on Main Street Plaza.”
They targeted us,” said Matt Aune, 28. “We werent doing anything inappropriate or illegal, or anything most people would consider inappropriate for any other couple.”
Both Aune and his partner, Derek Jones, were cited by Salt Lake City police for trespassing on the plaza, located at 50 East North Temple, according to Sgt. Robin Snyder.”
If a person is asked to leave private property for whatever reason and refuses to do so, that is technically trespassing,” she said. The property was transferred from Salt Lake City to the church in 2003, and it is a popular thoroughfare.
The Police Department on Friday denied a Salt Lake Tribune request for a full police report on the incident, citing Utah laws giving them five business days to respond to records requests.
Aune said the incident started when he and Jones were walking back to his Salt Lake City home from a Twilight Concert Series show at the Gallivan Center. The couple live just blocks away from the plaza in the Marmalade district of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
The pair crossed the plaza holding hands, Aune said. About 20 feet from the edge of the plaza, Aune said he stopped, put his arm around Jones and kissed him on the cheek.
Several security guards then arrived and asked the pair to leave, saying that public displays of affection are not allowed on the church property, Aune and Jones said. The pair protested, saying they often see other couples holding hands, kissing or celebrating their marriages, said Jones.
“We were kind of standing up for ourselves,” Jones said. “It was obviously because we were gay.”
After about five minutes, the guards then put Jones on the ground and handcuffed him, he said. Aune said he was also cuffed roughly, and suffered bruises and a swollen wrist. Aune and Jones said they told their side of the story to police when officers arrived.
Police arrived about 10:30 p.m., spoke with two security guards and issued the citations, Snyder said.
Aune said he and his boyfriend were told by the guards they were banned from all church property for six months.
Main Street Plaza, located next to the Salt Lake City LDS Temple, was transferred from city ownership to church property in the late 1990s. To end years of litigation over a public easement, which would allow protests on the plaza, the church gave the city property for a west-side community center. Aune said he was one of those who protested the transfer at the time.
“They claimed in 2003 this would never happen, they were never going to arrest anyone,” he said.
The Tribune has requested comment from the LDS Church, but as of 4:45 p.m. Friday had not yet received an anticipated statement on the issue.
And people wonder why I think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is fucked up … members of the Church, as individuals, I have no problems with. The institution itself? Major problems … they are just as oppressive as any other organized religious institution, if not more so.
Jesus preached love, people … he didn’t preach hate.
I think it’s time for everyone, gay and straight alike, to head for Main Street Plaza and start making out on the grounds.