Supporters of a gay couple who say they were detained by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' (the Mormons) security guards over a kiss on the cheek protested Sunday morning near the church-owned walkway where the incident occurred in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Matt Aune, 28, and his partner Derek Jones, 25 say they were detained by church security guards and cited by city police for trespassing.

The pair crossed the Main Street Plaza, an easement that connects the Mormon Temple to other church sites that 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 plaza.

The “kiss in” drew about 100 gay and straight couples near the plaza entrance, where the couples held hands and exchanged affectionate kisses as nearby church security guards looked on. Couples wore paper hearts in solidarity.

“It should be OK to show your love for someone else,” former Salt Lake City Councilwoman Deeda Seed, who helped organize the protest, told the paper. “What makes us essentially at our best as human beings is when we feel for someone else.”

The men say they were detained by the church because they are gay, and added that they have seen many straight couples share affection on the plaza.

“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 couple.”

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 answer.

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 profanities.”

City police are expected to release information on the incident Tuesday.

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.

The entire plaza became the private property of the church in 2003 after a controversial land-swap deal with the city, allowing the church to regulate inappropriate behavior – from smoking to protesting – on the plaza.