Respectful protests are more effective

By By Liz Carlston and By Liz Carlston

By Liz Carlston

On July 9, Matt Aune, 28, and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, were asked to leave the Main Street Plaza, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for “engaging in behavior deemed inappropriate for any couple on the Plaza.”

The LDS Church’s statement read: “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 were asked to stop. When they became belligerent, the two individuals were asked to leave church property.”

According to Aune, both he and Jones had been drinking and per the police report, refused to adhere to multiple requests from church security when asked to stop their inappropriate behavior and leave. Even after Salt Lake City police officers arrived, they initially refused to supply their names and were cited for trespassing.

However, the next day, Aune and Jones told the media a different story. They said they had been “targeted” because they were gay, and the headlines read, “Gay couple detained after kiss near LDS temple.” That is a misrepresentation of the facts.

Unfortunately, because of festering grievances over Proposition 8 in California, time and time again the LDS Church has become a scapegoat for its unchangeable view on the traditional definition of marriage.

To the pro-gay movement’s credit, they downplayed the incident but have since demonstrated with several “kiss-in” protests near the Salt Lake Temple, a place LDS Church members hold sacred. The goal of such protests, one would assume, is to gain acceptance, tolerance and open minds from the LDS community.

There is no other organization that should be more open-minded than the LDS Church. Having experienced extreme persecution in its early days, from a governor’s extermination order applicable to all members, to the assassination of the LDS Church’s founder, the LDS Church has experienced a good deal of intolerance and rejection. However, the church has rightly refused to be goaded into a “Mormons versus gays” battle and simply restated its position more respectfully than holding a “kiss-in” equivalent.

A pamphlet titled God Loveth His Children, that was released recently by the LDS Church reads “some people with same-gender attraction have felt rejected because members of the church did not always show love. No member of the church should ever be intolerant.”

If gay-rights activists truly want to further their position in gaining more civil rights (a fair and reasonable appeal), the forum is not on the footsteps of a place considered sacred by any religion and unleashing lewd, drunken profanity. The correct forum is working through legislative channels where the issues are eventually presented to the voters for ratification.

In spite of this trendy era when it’s tolerated to label someone as a “homophobe” these unwarranted, generalized accusations against the LDS Church and its members are not right or fair. Tolerance does not require one to embrace another’s position or lifestyle, but both sides can be more understanding and accepting of those who hold a different opinion and refrain from public behavior designed to be offensive. Let’s all resist being carried away by the emotional tirades of who scream the loudest.

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Liz Carlston