What not to do in the neighborhood of Temple Square

How often have you seen this? An affectionate couple are walking along holding hands, and one gives the other a kiss on the cheek.

The only way you might have missed seeing that fairly often is if you are legally blind. It’s common, it’s harmless, and it’s rather sweet — and we normally approve of such mild public expressions of affection.

Unless, of course, the couple consists of two young men, and especially if it is in Utah.

A gay couple says they were detained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints security guards after one man kissed another on the cheek Thursday on Main Street Plaza.

“They targeted us,” said Matt Aune, 28. “We weren’t doing anything inappropriate or illegal, or anything most people would consider inappropriate for any other couple.”
Aune and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, were cited by Salt Lake City police for trespassing on the plaza, located at 50 East North Temple, according to Sgt. Robin Snyder.

I know exactly where that is — it’s near the huge office building that is headquarters for the Mormon Empire. Good work, Matt and Derek! If there is any place on the planet that most needs some demonstration of gay endearment, that’s one of the best (oddly enough, all the others that I can think of are also centers of established religion…). Maybe a few hundred loving couples of all sexes ought to descend on the place and show the Mormon security guards that they can’t quell people’s feelings for one another.

Mr Aune did show a little naivete, though.

The kiss happened on a former public easement given up by city in 2003 in a controversial land-swap deal. The easement became private property, allowing the church to ban protesting, smoking, sunbathing and other “offensive, indecent, obscene, lewd or disorderly speech, dress or conduct,” church officials said at the time. In exchange, the city got church property for a west-side community center.

Aune said he was one of those who protested the transfer at the time.

“They claimed in 2003 this would never happen, they were never going to arrest anyone,” he said. “It’s clear now they do have an agenda.”

It’s clear now? Trust me, when a church lobbies for the right to police offensive behavior in any place, they’ve got some very specific stuff in mind, and the people who don’t fit into their narrow fundamentalist pigeonhole should know it doesn’t matter what you do — they’re going to get you. You probably don’t even want to bend over to tie your shoelaces when some straitlaced repressed Mormon authority figure with a nightstick is standing somewhere behind you.