A gay couple has been banned from
property owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(the Mormons) after an altercation with security guards over a kiss,
the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The men say they were roughly cuffed
and banned from the Mormon Church's headquarters campus in Salt Lake
City, Utah after one man kissed the other on the cheek.
In the altercation, Matt Aune, 28, and
his partner Derek Jones, 25, were detained by church security guards,
and cited by city police for trespassing.
The pair crossed the Main Street Plaza,
which belongs to the church, Thursday night holding hands as they
walked home from a concert. Near the edge of the plaza, Aune says he
stopped, hugged Jones and kissed him on the cheek.
The couple was cuffed and detained when
they protested against requests by the guards that they leave.
Guards told them public displays of affection are not allowed on the
“They targeted us,” Aune told the
paper. “We weren't doing anything inappropriate or illegal, or
anything most people would consider inappropriate for any other
In a statement, church officials denied
discriminating against the couple, saying they were asked to leave as any other couple would be. But when the paper asked what is
considered inappropriate behavior, spokeswoman Kim Farah refused to
Farah said the two men were detained
and the police were called because they “became argumentative,”
used profanity and refused to leave.
Aune admits he used profanity: “When
I was handcuffed, I was very pissed and I unleashed a flurry of
The Mormon Church has been under
intense criticism by gay rights advocates after its members, at the
request of church leaders, donated millions of dollars – and
thousands of volunteer hours – to the campaign to ban gay marriage
in California, Proposition 8.