News

Gay couple arrested by Mormon ‘morality’ police

GAY couple Matt Aune, 28 and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, felt the full fury of Mormon security guards when they exchanged a kiss on Main Street Plaza in Salt Lake City earlier this week.

Matt Aune and Jones

Matt Aune and Derek Jones

According to this report, several security guards rushed over and told the pair to leave the area, saying that public displays of affection were not allowed on church property.

When they protested, the guards put Jones on the ground and handcuffed him. Aune said he was also cuffed roughly, and suffered bruises and a swollen wrist.

The plaza was once part of public area, but was acquired by the Church of Latter Day Saints in a controversial land-swap deal with the city.  The deal allowed the church to ban protesting, smoking, sunbathing and other:

Offensive, indecent, obscene, lewd or disorderly speech, dress or conduct.

In a written statement, church spokeswoman Kim Farah denied the two were singled out for being gay. The church contends that Aune and Jones were:

Asked to stop engaging in inappropriate behavior just as any other couple would have been. They became argumentative and used profanity and refused to leave the property. They were arrested and then given a citation for criminal trespass by Salt Lake City Police Department.

Farah said the two men “became argumentative,” refused to leave, and used profanity.

Aune admitted swearing:

When I was handcuffed, I was very pissed [angry] and I unleashed a flurry of profanities.

UPDATE: July 12 - About 100 people gathered near the Mormon church’s downtown temple to stage a “kiss-in” protesting the treatment of Aune and Jones.

According to this report, former Salt Lake City Councilwoman Deeda Seed helped organise today’s kiss-in.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported on its Web site that heterosexual and gay couples exchanged small kisses and pecks at the plaza’s south entrance, which faces downtown. Church security was present. The Deseret News of Salt Lake City reported on its Web site that no altercations occurred.


31 Responses to “Gay couple arrested by Mormon ‘morality’ police”

  1. Buffy says:

    Why gay people choose to live in Utah I'll never know.

  2. sara says:

    News flash, gay people live everywhere. Did you ever consider that gay and straight people enjoy living in Utah for its beauty and outdoors? It is just unfortunate that there is such intolerance of "others" that are different from the masses. You probably think that gay people also "choose" to be gay, right?

  3. Darren says:

    erm, okay.. I don't know why this is relevant to this story.. I don't see where it says they live in Utah..or if they do, that they chose to live in Utah.. It may be that they have grown up there and find it difficult to leave, for many reasons.

  4. ZombieHunter says:

    I think a large group of people should go to this park and start getting it on in public or have a massive heavy metal conert or a rave or something :P

  5. Kerry says:

    Mormons=wierd scary dudes.

  6. KobaChan says:

    Gay people aren't going to move from what is probably their hometown just because some people are idiots. Sometimes you can't change where you live. Simple fact.

  7. Low Key says:

    Salt Lake City has a large gay community. Many are former church members who went on missions and had a temple marriage. Being gay is big problem for mormons and many stay in the closet most of their lives because they are told it is such a horrible sin. From the time they are three years old they are indoctrinated in the churches dogma and the results are quite sad. Unfortunately, the local government often acts in collusion with the church. This land swap deal is a very good example. Swapping prime downtown real estate so that the church can block protests outside the temple is criminal.

  8. barriejohn says:

    My immediate raction too, Zombiehunter! What is wrong with people in America? I`m sure that in Europe this would have been the response!!

  9. barriejohn says:

    Didn`t we have a somewhat similar story recently involving the Roman Catholic Church? (http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/04/24/outrage-over-… ) These civic leaders can`t be acting within the law, surely?

  10. barriejohn says:

    Didn`t we have a somewhat similar story recently involving the Roman Catholic Church? ( http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/04/24/outrage-over-… ) These civic leaders can`t be acting within the law, surely?

  11. Suspicious Minds says:

    The thought occurs to me to ask, isn't church about attracting people and not running them off? Since when does a church that benefits from tax exempt status, get to have any private property since it's the taxpayers who are helping to publically fund these establishments? It's high time that land taxes and revenue taxes be levied if the church is going to be run like a police state with publically funded taxpayer money!

  12. valdemar says:

    I, too, wonder why special tax breaks are given to religious organisations that don't do any particular good for society. But of course, taking that special perk away would be PERSECTION!!!! And prompt a flurry of CAPITAL LETTERD AND MISPELED abuse from Christians.

  13. Ivan says:

    Funny you should mention that. According to the Salt Lake Tribune (yes, I am bored) there was to be a mass "kiss-in" this morning in support of the couple.

  14. Derek says:

    1.Derek Says:
    July 11th, 2009 at 9:03 am
    How funny that these guys try to claim that they were victims. I witnessed the whole thing. First of all, these two gentlemen did much more then hold hands and kiss, they were completely all over each other. Second of all they were given ample opportunities to leave, these security guards told them politely they could stay on this easement as long as they weren’t all over each other. The two men turned things around quickly, they were drunk and completely obnoxious and rude to the security guards, cussing at them and calling them all sorts of names. That’s when they arrested them for trespassing not kissing. Funny how these two “victims” claim to be victimized, when in reality they were just picking a fight, and wanted some attention which they got.

  15. Davon says:

    The LDS church donates millions a year in clothing and food not to mention volunteering time to the worlds poor and afflicted by natural disaster.

  16. barry_duke says:

    And let's not forget the millions they spent opposing gay marriage in California.

  17. notsofast says:

    Individual Mormons spent that money, not the Mormon church as an institution. That distinction may or may not be very important, but your obfuscation of it is somewhat disingenuous.

  18. wade says:

    It is well known that the morman church has sent aid around the world. Its also well known how many so called public services they have done. But it wasn’t long ago that they didn’t allow blacks in the church nor do see women as more than evil force yet to be tamed by the magic preasthood. They teach sexism racism hatred and pretty much all things un christ like so why’s all us surprised how anti gay they are. If your worried about the sanctity of marriage try tell the many preteen girls forced to marry pedifiles and treated like live stock by brother brigam and his disgusting rape of children and being gay is an abomination please.

  19. h0682 says:

    Thank you for speaking up on what you saw. There are always two sides to a story and I'm glad that you are willing to tell about another angle.

  20. Lauren says:

    Please don't be disrespectful. I'm sure you're better than that.

  21. Ghostt says:

    Tax payers dont fund LDS, property members due by paying tything. Theres a diffrence between tax breaks and tax funded

  22. andi says:

    They were not just kissing, they were groping, and using explicit language!!! Any couple would have been stopped for that! To act like they were not doing anything wrong is ignorant on this gay couples part!!!! They just want their 15 min of fame! I'm so sick of LIARS!!

  23. Morgan says:

    Davon,

    Judging by the very uncharitable and rough treatment accorded Aune and his partner Jones by the church guards and by the lack of apology toward them by the Mormon church, one would never have suspected the full range of donation of food, clothing and time by the church. The unkindness and severity of the Mormons toward thousands of same-sex couples obscures whatever charity the church performs.

    My church is both gay-friendly and charitable in its activities in feeding the needy. Charity without love toward all diversity of people renders the spirt of the charity moot although granted some people are kept from starving in the process and although all charitable giving of food, time and clothing is needed. I am a liberal gay Christian, and I stand up for my community.

  24. Morgan says:

    Andi,

    Whatever the couple did, did it justify being thrown to the ground, treated roughly and manacled?

  25. Morgan says:

    Zombiehunter,

    I don't agree. While I agree on one hand that people gay and straight should be able to walk through holding hands or giving each a nice little peck on the cheek, on the other hand bedroom behavior like getting it on or being all over each other or having a loud, noisy concert is tasteless, unnecessary, and destructive of the peace and serenity of the plaza. I think people should be mature and respectful of others and act like in a refined manner. Gays and straights calmly walking thorough holding hands and having a quick peck on the cheek would be sufficiently refined and respectful of others and at the same time allow for some public display of affection without being obnoxious.

  26. Tommy says:

    Crap the elders of the morman church spoke out supporting it and asked members to donate.

  27. Tommy says:

    I am a mormon and gay, i am no longer a member of the church, i was treated like a criminal, i was callede sick and evil by the elders.
    That is why i left home and the church i do not speak to my family and i am so much happier.

  28. The San Rafael Swell says:

    If anyone wants to know how bad the LDS Church is, I’ll give you an example. My wife bought a house that happened to belong to a relative. This relative happens to be LDS. We have recieved some of this relative’s mail. ONe of these pieces of mail was the local Ward’s (church, chapter, what ever you want to call it)newsletter. In this newletter there is a section dedicated to “resident” missionaries and their work. This section mentions an “Investigator”. This is a relatively new term that is used to refer to someone that is being contacted by the missionaries and is considering conversion to the church. This “investigator” apparently had some material that was critical of the church in some way and the newsletter mentioned “it was conviscated”. This is a direct quote. Yup, that about sums it up. Make up your own mind, think logically and rationally, be critical and skeptical of all you hear and see. Objectivity is a beautiful state of mind. It’s not that difficult.

  29. Gunlock says:

    Who cares? These two asked for it, kissing on some church property. Go over to main street and kiss all you want. I’m not homophobic but this overly procative attitude is really annoying

  30. bethany says:

    I am on both sides for this case. 1st of all the gay couple was being innapropriate but being thrown on the ground?! Both the gaurds and the couple are at fault. I am technically a mormon I was raised in a mormon houshold and I am APPAULED the way they treat gays, that got me to go sin(in other words drink coffee and lookup the negative side of church) and I found that brigham young was a murderer and rapist… He did create a speech to end slavery but his speech throws in the n word all the time he also talks about how bad he thinks black people are yet they shouldn’t be slaves… Nothing is black and white people look at both sides :) I rest my case…

  31. Steve Hollman says:

    Well, some automatically side with gays, some with the land owners, the LDS Church. Do you really think a Church employee-security is going to pick on two people just sitting there? Why? The facts are this: The LDS employee was told by others walking through that offensive conduct was occurring. No mention of race or gender. And that other members of the public, who had chldren with them had asked the conduct stop thery were treated with ‘go f_ _ _ yourselves.’ The employee approached and started by protecting the offenders from getting beaten by angry fathers. You know how no good deed goes unpunished? Well once the angry public left the couple was told to stop the groin circus and the tounge hockey and leave. This is when the couple got abusive, foul mouthed to the employee(s) telling them loudly to ‘suck some’ and other filty comments. So they were asked & then told to leave private property. Refusing and becoming louder, more abusive and threatening-they were arrested. Fact is had this couple been acting similarly ANYWHERE else in public they would have been arrested and lileky had the crap kicked out of them by bystanders. They were lucky they only were arrested. And eventually had the charges dropped. Yes, the land owners are Christians-Oh but no thank you required.