LDS Church defends plaza trespassing arrests

LDS Church defends plaza trespassing arrests

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is further defending itself against criticism that arose when two gay men were arrested for trespassing on the Main Street Plaza.

Thursday, July 9, Derek Jones and his boyfriend, Matthew Aune walked through the plaza holding hands. According to the Salt Lake City Police report, Aune told officers he and Jones "had been drinking at the Gallivan Center and they just came through Main St. He said they sat down and he gave Derek a kiss." [CLICK HERE to read the entire police report]

In a statement released Friday, the LDS Church claims the actions of the two men went beyond kissing.

"There was much more involved than a simple kiss on the cheek," the statement reads. "[The men] engaged in passionate kissing, groping, profane and lewd language, and had obviously been using alcohol."

Jones and Aune were asked to leave by Church security. When they refused, security detained them and called police.

The LDS Church says those are actions for which anybody would be asked to leave.

"They were politely told that the Plaza was not the place for such behavior and asked to stop," the statement reads. "When they became belligerent, the two individuals were asked to leave Church property. Church security detained them and Salt Lake City police were called."[CLICK HERE to read the entire statement from the LDS Church]

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."

The following Sunday morning dozens of people gathered outside Temple Square to protest the arrests, staging what they called a "kiss-in."

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