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Call for a Nationwide Kiss-Off

Aug 07, 2009
By Sean Piazza


 Matt Aune and Derek Jones
Matt Aune and Derek Jones after their detainment by the Mormon Church for "inappropriate behavior." Photo by Scott Sommerdorf/Newscom

Nearly two months after the California Supreme Court decision to uphold a state ban on gay marriage, the relationship between the gay community and opponents of same-sex marriage continues to sour. An especially tense relationship for gays and lesbians has developed with the Mormons’ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), which was among the most active and potent supporters of the legislation in California, known as Proposition 8.

That tension has gone very public recently in Salt Lake City, Utah. In July, Matt Aune, 28, and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, were forcefully detained there by the church, accused of “inappropriate behavior” and charged with trespassing. Their alleged crime was kissing in an open downtown plaza that the church had purchased from the city 10 years ago, although released footage records only an argument and arrest.

LGBT activists on Prop 8
Dahlia Ferlito, 28, and her wife Antoinette Reyes, 27, chant at a protest rally outside the Los Angeles County Marriage License Office in May. Photo by Robyn Beck/Newscom

In a show of support for the arrested couple, hundreds of local residents—gay and straight—took to the public areas around the Salt Lake City Temple in the days and weeks following the arrest to stage a non-violent “Kiss-In” protesting the couple’s arrest as discrimination.

The Aune case and incidents elsewhere this summer—including a reported harassment case in El Paso and the raid of a Ft. Worth gay bar on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots—have incited a movement for a nationwide Kiss-In on August 15. According to the Web site, the movement hopes to evolve “into a simultaneous occasion of kissing and hugging between thousands of couples, gay and straight, in cities and towns all over the country.”

Tensions between opposing sides in the gay marriage fight are unlikely to cool anytime soon, since many gay marriage supporters are looking to the 2010 election in California as an opportunity to repeal the proposition and provide a national stage to readdress the issue.

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Thanks so much for the link to the original footage of this “detainment.” To see men in suits who are just representatives of a grossly intolerant church and have no accountability to the public put these innocent men in handcuffs is nauseating. It is yet another reminder that the law needs to err on the side of protecting individual citizens, not the primitive moral code of a church that maybe only represents a small section of the public…

Albert Harris
Aug 26, 2009

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