People passing through a walkway owned
by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) are
now on notice after a gay kiss incident.
Church officials have posted new signs
at the Salt Lake City Main Street Plaza where two men were cuffed
after sharing a kiss in July. The new signs warn visitors: “The
[LDS] Church reserves the right to refuse access to any person for
Security guards cuffed and detained
Matt Aune, 28, and his partner Derek Jones, 25, on July 9, a
Thursday, as they walked across a walkway that connects the Mormon
Temple to other church sites. Police responding to the incident
cited the couple for trespassing.
While church officials say “there was
much more involved than a simple kiss on the cheek,” responding
officers were told that security guards observed the men “kissing
and hugging” on church property.
In a statement, church officials
alleged the men were “engaged in passionate kissing, groping,
profane and lewd language, and had obviously been using alcohol.”
The men agreed they had been drinking but insisted there was nothing
indecent about their affections.
The incident sparked two “kiss ins”
near church property in protest and renewed a heated debate on
anti-gay discrimination by the Mormon Church, whose members donated
millions of dollars – and thousands of volunteer hours – to the
campaign to ban gay marriage in California last year at the behest of
Eventually, all charges against the men
were dropped. City Prosecutor Sim Gill said the church failed to
adequately warn the couple that they were on private property.
“I'm glad to see [the church] move
forward,” Gill told the Salt Lake Tribune Monday. “We've
never said the property owner does not have an absolute right to
enforce their property rights.”