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SALT LAKE CITY -- There's been more fallout from a public display of affection between a same-sex couple in Salt Lake and two other cities. Gay rights activists are now calling for a nationwide kiss-in, to call attention to what they say is a much larger issue.
New York writer and blogger David Badash first made the call for a national kiss-in on his blog July 13. He says it doesn't target The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Salt Lake City, but is an attempt to call attention to the need for tolerance and understanding.
In fact, Badash says the Salt Lake kiss was the third in a series that caused concern and ended in arrests in 2009. The first two were in different cities in Texas.
"I know so many same-sex couples who live in different parts of the country who do feel a major concern, and feel very, very intimidated," he said.
Despite that, the blog does call for the kiss-in protests to take place "in an organized, public, non-confrontational but well-publicized manner. Which means, in front of Mormon churches." So far, the LDS Church has not made any comment, and Badash says he has not contacted LDS Church officials.
He believes any couple should feel free to show affection for each other, regardless of sexual orientation, without fear of harassment or retaliation.
"I live in New York City, and yet there are places in New York City where I don't feel comfortable kissing my boyfriend on the street," said Badash.
The call to action spread from his blog to that of a friend and fellow blogger, and finally to Facebook. As of Friday, seven cities had confirmed events planned for August 15 in conjunction with a national kiss-in. Badash said discussions were taking place in nine other cities, including Salt Lake City, to take part as well.
In Salt Lake City, protests were sparked after Derek Jones and Matthew Aune were arrested for trespassing on the Main Street Plaza, which is owned by the LDS Church.
A statement issued in response by Church leaders described it as "much more involved than a simple kiss on the cheek," and that anyone engaged in the same type of lewd and drunken behavior also would have been asked to leave.
The organizers of next month's protests aren't asking participants to be lewd. In fact, the blogs encourage "G and PG-rated" protests.