Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kissing, security guards, and videotape in the shadow of the temple.

The picture to the left was taken at the Salt Lake Temple on June 30th, by Read Feather Photography, more of whose stunning work can be found here.

I realize this post has gotten quite lengthy, so I thought I would provide a summary. Gays kiss on former state now church property, Mormons bash, caught on tape.

The loooonger version.

If you haven't been keeping up, on July 9th at about 10:30 pm two guys were walking home from a public concert in downtown Salt Lake City. The city is laid out such that the Mormon Church owns a portion of what used to be called "Main Street." To walk north-south often requires cutting across church property or taking a several-block-long detour. The path looks like a public pathway; the sign marking the path is here:

When walking through, they kissed and hugged. (According to the couple involved there was a hug and a kiss on the face.) Then, well, just watch the movie. The police were called (on request of the gay couple involved), they were originally charged with trespassing, but the city dropped the charges.

What did the Mormon Church say about the incident?
As we said earlier on this matter, these men were asked to stop engaging in behavior deemed inappropriate for any couple on the Plaza. There was much more involved than a simple kiss on the cheek. They engaged in passionate kissing, groping, profane and lewd language, and had obviously been using alcohol. They were politely told that the Plaza was not the place for such behavior and asked to stop. When they became belligerent, the two individuals were asked to leave Church property. Church security detained them and Salt Lake City police were called.
The entire statement can be found here.

The Police report says: "Nickel(one of the security guards) said that he observed Matt and Derek kissing and hugging on their property." (Full report here.) [Aside--Kissing and Hugging, Huh? Do you suppose the beautiful wedding photo, at the top,taken in broad daylight was produced by some sort of guerilla operation involving, uh, gorilla suits to disguise the nature of the couple's presence until the last possible moment?]

The story from the point of view of the two gay men involved can be found here, and matches up pretty closely with what can be seen on the video tape.

I mean, really. Many marriages in the Mormon church take place in the temple. Photos for these weddings (pretty much) always take place on the beautiful temple grounds. Aren't passionate kisses not only expected but required?

It defies reality to think that PDA's are not allowed on the plaza as anyone with even a passing familiarity with Temple grounds can tell you, and I personally passed it hundreds, perhaps thousands of times.

What do I think? It seems to me that the Mormon Church wants the street formerly known as Main Street to exist in some sort of twilight zone, where they get to determine the behavior they deem appropriate. However, they also want this definition to be fuzzy to not scare people off, as would undoubtedly happen if they posted a huge, terrifying list of rules.

Perhaps a simple stating "Warning, black-suited, quick tempered security guards. Enter at your own risk" would do the trick. Welcome to the church plaza, y'all.
Thank you, Salt Lake Tribune.

As a final aside, I really don't think Mormons either in general or in specific think two guys holding hands should be treated as badly as they were. I just think this situation got out of control, but considering the number of security officials I saw milling about (9?, 10?) used to subdue two completely non-threatening individuals, I hope changes are made.


Allie said...

The good thing is that there was a large outcry from the LGBT community in Salt Lake. There was a "kiss in" protest at the temple grounds that many of my friends went to, where they had to be escorted off by police men. (I understand that, they were protesting on private property. But still.) Also, those two guys are kind of local heros now, I've seen them in coffee shops and concerts a couple of times.

djinn said...

Local heroes, huh? I'm guessing even more so after the release of the video. The tall guy, protecting his sweetie from the threatening black-suited guys comes across as seriously decent. Those incongrously in ties, not so much.

mfranti said...

genie, great post.

and why was i denied access to your super secret blog?

do i have to give up my first born? because i will.