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SALT LAKE CITY -- Two men say they were singled out and treated unfairly by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint because they're gay. Salt Lake City police arrested the two for trespassing when they were asked to leave the Church's Main Street Plaza but refused to do so.
On Thursday night, Derek Jones and his boyfriend, Matt, walked through the plaza holding hands. One reportedly kissed the other, and that's when security guards asked them to leave.
"We were called at about 10:25 p.m. by LDS security to come over to their property where two males were in custody for refusing to leave the property," explained Salt Lake police Sgt. Robin Snyder said.
The couple was cited for trespassing. Snyder says the law allows the owner of a property to kick someone out for any reason.
"A property owner has the right to ask someone to leave their property. If they do not leave that property, then they have violated an ordinance, a Salt Lake City ordinance, which is trespassing. So, the police became involved," Snyder said.
The Church released a statement saying the couple was "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 SLPD."
"If this is a public place, such as a park, that's a whole different story," Snyder said.
But Jones paints a different picture. In a blog, Jones wrote: "This especially irked the both of us because having walked through on a frequent basis (we often walk to work through there) and every time I have been through there are either marriage ceremonies going on, young Mormon couples cuddling in front the fountain, hugging, holding hands, etc.
"Matt then tried to get them to admit they were singling us out because they just didn't approve of ‘gay' public displays of affection, baiting them into revealing their bigotry."