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LDS Church: Cited gay couple engaged in passionate spectacle

Published July 17, 2009 6:59 pm

Religion » It was no 'simple kiss on the cheek' at the plaza, statement says
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The kiss wasn't just a kiss.

So alleged the LDS Church on Friday in statement further explaining why security guards detained a gay couple on its Main Street Plaza last week.

The church's statement said there was "much more involved" than a "simple kiss on the cheek." It said the two men "engaged in passionate kissing, groping, profane and lewd language, and had obviously been using alcohol."

Derek Jones and Matt Aune were cited July 9 for trespassing on the plaza on their way home to the Marmalade neighborhood from a Gallivan Center concert.

"I guess they consider hugging groping," Aune said Friday. "Regardless of if a kiss is on the cheek or on the lips, it still is not inappropriate -- unless you are gay, according to the LDS Church."

Aune said he held Jones' hand in the plaza and gave him a kiss on the face.

"These men," the church statement said, "were asked to stop engaging in behavior deemed inappropriate for any couple on the plaza."

Aune and Jones have acknowledged they had been drinking at the Gallivan show earlier, and that they refused to leave the church plaza, using profanity, after they were stopped by the guards. Both were handcuffed by the guards and Jones, Aune said, was thrown to the ground. (The guard denied any roughness when asked by a police officer.)

"As far as being lewd and profane [in language]," Aune said, "I think anyone who was detained against their will in the way we were ... would be upset."

Aune said the couple plan to contest the trespassing charges in court.

A Salt Lake City police report released on the incident said a church security guard observed the couple "kissing and hugging" and asked them to leave the plaza for displaying "behavior that is unwanted."

In the police report, the officer mentions smelling alcohol on Aune's breath.

Salt Lake City Prosecutor Sim Gill said he is waiting for additional information from police and to learn whether any video cameras recorded the episode.

"My office is very carefully reviewing the case," Gill said, "to make sure that it is warranted for prosecution."

The LDS Church has faced public criticism for the guards' response. A "kiss-in" protest was staged outside the plaza last weekend and another one is scheduled Sunday.

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Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle contributed to this story.