I don't get let the gay vs. church issues upset me very much, but this news story really chapped my hide:
As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune and The Deseret News and a first hand account from one of the men involved.
My issue is not with the fact that they were cited for trespassing, but that they were singled out in the first place. Once the gay couple became argumentative and refused to leave, Church security was within their right to handcuff them and call the local police. What I really have issue with is the enormous double standard that exists here. First of all, it was about 10:00 or 10:30 PM, as I understand it, and few people, if any, were on the easement at all. Secondly, the couple was on their way home, and all they were doing was holding hands, and then one man gave his partner a peck on the cheek. That's it! If there are rules against public displays of affection on the Church-owned easement then why do I often see married couples and couples who are dating being allowed to be affectionate with each other in public on the Church Plaza without any repercussions? Heck, you see lots of couples just married in the temple kissing each other on the plaza. So why aren’t they stopped for such behavior? Because they are straight, that's why!!
You know, even if this couple had been making out or involved in blatantly sexual behavior (heck, I don't even want to see that publicly from straight people) on the Plaza, maybe I could understand. But they were holding hands and one guy gave the other a simple peck on the cheek. You can see a demonstration of this on this news feed (found under "Couple Detained for Public Affection", if you like. I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that if a straight couple had done exactly the same thing, Church security would not have bothered them at all. Making out, maybe. Hand holding and a cheek peck, not a chance.
I just think the security guards used extremely poor judgment. Even if they didn't agree with the couple's behavior, wouldn't it have been easier and less of a public relations nightmare for the Church if they had just let the hand-holding, cheek-pecking couple pass through on their merry way instead of making an issue of it? The couple wouldn't have had to get defensive (as I feel was their right), the security guards wouldn't look like complete assholes, and the Church wouldn't have yet another reason to look bad in dealing with homosexual issues.
As noted in the above articles, the Church issued the following statement regarding the incident:
"Two individuals came on Church property and were politely 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."
The couple "became argumentative and used profanity?" Agreed. The couple "refused to leave the property?" Agreed. They trespassed and, therefore, were cited for it? Agreed. They were "asked to stop engaging in inappropriate behavior-just as any other couple would have been?" Excuse my language, but bullshit! A straight couple never would have been stopped for the same infraction. Would even two Italians men or French men have been stopped for a cultural greeting where they kiss each other on the cheek? Perhaps, but not as likely. It's such a double standard, and it makes me so angry!
At the very least, I think these security officers could use some sensitivity training. And for a church that ardently tries to cultivate an image of being welcoming, loving, inclusive, and Christ-like, I think this incident makes them look very bad.
Now the couple is banned from Church property for six months. For trespassing, yes, but all stemming from the fact that they were stopped for hand-holding and a peck on the cheek. Absolutely ridiculous! I'm glad in this world of famine and war and homelessness, we're protecting people from behavior from two people who love each other and simply express that love in the same way their straight counterparts do.
I remember when the whole controversy happened when the city sold this tract of land to the LDS Church in the first place. I was troubled by it then, and I am even more troubled by it now.
Ach! This whole thing really burns me up! Sorry for my language.