Gay "Kiss-In" at Mormon Temple

A gay couple kiss in front of the Salt Lake City Mormon Temple / David Daniels

For the second time gay activists and allies held a kiss-in at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The action held this morning was to protest the arrest of two gay men two weeks ago who showed "inappropriate" public affection on LDS Church property.

According to The Advocate:

Aune, 28, and Jones, 25, told the newspaper that they were walking back to their nearby home in the evening when they crossed the plaza holding hands, then stopped to kiss on the cheek. Several security guards arrived and told the couple that public displays of affection are not allowed on church property.

When Aune and Jones protested, they were handcuffed, and police were called. Aune and Jones were barred from LDS Church headquarters campus for six months.

The LDS Church claimed that the couple were engaging in obscene and lewd behavior. However, the police report states only that the church security guards reported they "observed Matt and Derek kissing and hugging on their property."

In the 1950s, in order to get around desegregation laws, racist Southern legislators would sell public land to private organizations in order to exclude black citizens. In a similar move, the Salt Lake City Council sold the Main Street public plaza to the Mormon Church in 2003. The Church then instituted a series of moral restrictions about what would and would not be acceptable under the watchful eye of Joseph Smith and his fellow polygamous patriarchs.

The LDS Church is framing this as an "equal opportunity" ban on affection. But in an interview with Aune the issue appeared to be far more about who was doing the kissing:

As Aune pressed officers to explain, the couple says as many as half a dozen security officers responded to the call. In between security officers allegedly telling the couple their behavior was "unnatural" and "just wrong," the pair were split up. Jones says he was forced to the ground on his stomach and handcuffed and that Aune was also detained and cuffed. Both, he said, were searched by church security.

This ban on affection is rather ironic considering the Mormon church originally moved out to Utah in part to avoid the legal proscriptions on polygamy in New York where Joseph Smith began his evangelizing. When the state of Utah threatened the LDS Church to end their practice or lose their religious exemption status the Church patriarchs miraculously received a "revelation" against multiple wives. A similar vision occurred in the 1970s when the federal government forced the LDS Church to eliminate their racist policies against blacks. Now they are attempting to hold on to their homophobia while the world changes around them. Unfortunately for them, magic underpants or no magic underpants, the Mormons are going to have to face the reality that civil rights trump their religious intolerance.

Video from today's action hasn't been posted yet, but last week's protest was covered by the local media in Salt Lake City.

More like this

Mormonism is proof that some people will believe anything if you call it a religion.

But then, so is Scientology.

Yeah! And are the other religions any less insane?

By John Gathly (not verified) on 22 Jul 2009 #permalink

Do your research about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints before you spread your fictional propaganda.

By Mr Anderson (not verified) on 29 Jul 2009 #permalink

Like the fact that Joseph Smith was arrested on four occasions for being a con man (impersonation, disorderly conduct and "glass looking"). This was before he "found" the magical plates in his backyard and started his "religion".

Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley called this evidence "the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith."

That sort of research?

BS. This couple had an agenda and they achieved their aim in stirring up more controversy. The church acquired the property to adjoin the headquarters building and Temple square, and to limit protests. What's wrong with that? The church acquired the land legally, at great cost and effort.

Essentially, protesters complained because they couldn't be as disruptive as they wanted to be. It was a battle; in the end, the Church gained the upper hand. The objective was to reduce disruptions and increase tranquility on the temple grounds, where many church members and non-member visitors go for spiritual edification, or at least a pleasant tourism destination. Having to constantly be confronted by protesters is hardly conducive to that atmosphere.

It was not a way to exclude gays. It was a way to restrict all kinds of behavior on private property. As you say, there's nothing new about that, but there's also nothing inherently wrong about it. If I request that you remove your shoes before entering my home, you respect that. Comparing this to past racist policies is highly inaccurate, to put it mildly. Also, the church owns LOTS of land elsewhere in the state, and doesn't impose any such restrictions. So your argument doesn't hold water AT ALL.

As far as the fracas in question: I'm sorry, but I just don't believe that a gang of church security guards was hiding behind the bushes, waiting to pounce at the slightest display of homosexual affection. This couple is being disingenuous. They KNEW that what they were doing (whatever it was, I highly doubt it just was a peck on the cheek) would be considered inappropriate, and this was a ploy to draw attention to themselves and their agenda. So in that respect, they succeeded. Good for them, I guess.

And if it WAS a bad decision by the guards: guess what? They're security guards. It wouldn't be the first time "law enforcement" showed poor judgement. At worst, this is a case of the church grounds administration needing to better train the security staff at handling this kind of incident. That's all. But the gay community is making hay over this.

Do you think protesting is going to cause the LDS Church (the favorite target du jour), Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, or Jews to accept homosexuality? No. The more "mainstream" it becomes, the more polarized things will get.

Personally, I don't strongly oppose civil unions with extended legal benefits, but I agree with many that extending the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples is not the right thing for this country.

I know you're going to dismiss me as a bigot, but I'd say the same about you. I call people like you "Tolerance Fascists": people who say that we must be tolerant of everyone and everything--except those who disagree with you. I also call that hypocrisy.

Agenda? Oh, you mean to live a life according to their own belief system? Those tricky queers...out to undermind the God fearing folk!

By ironwoman (not verified) on 24 Aug 2009 #permalink

I think that sure they purchased the property, and it is there right to stop them from doing such things. Is it really in the LDS Churches best interests to make even more enemies. I think that the Church should be the bigger person/entity.

By Kacysizzle (not verified) on 11 Nov 2009 #permalink