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Police report on men's plaza kiss released

Published July 17, 2009 4:05 pm

Controversy » Two men were told to leave church property because of their unwanted behavior.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Church security guards cited kissing and hugging as the "unwanted" behavior two gay men displayed before they were detained and ticketed for trespassing on a plaza near the LDS Temple, according to the police report.

Spokesmen for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Salt Lake City police department have thus far declined to specify the behavior that prompted guards to ask Matt Aune, 28, and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, to leave the plaza at 50 E. North Temple. Aune said that the guards "slammed him to the ground" while detaining him; a guard disputed that claim, according to the police report.

Aune and Jones said they have seen heterosexual couples holding hands and kissing without incident on the plaza. Church spokeswoman Kim Farah has said the Aune and Jones were not singled out for being gay and that they were "politely asked to stop engaging in inappropriate behavior."

However, the police report does not indicate the men were given the option to stay if they stopped kissing or hugging. It states only that the guard told the men that "they need to leave [church] property for the behavior and that [it] is unwanted," and that the men were detained when Jones said he would not leave.

The men's detention reignited controversies over the church's efforts against gay marriage and the city's sale of the plaza to the church 10 years ago. The city had kept a public easement on the pedestrian thoroughfare but later gave it up, allowing the church to control activities on the plaza. Sunbathing and protesting now are banned.

Scores of demonstrators staged a "kiss in" to support Aune and Jones on Sunday morning near the plaza.