Of course, this is largely subjective. Some people think groping includes hands low on the waist, while others think it can be deemed so only with a full-on crotch-grab. We probably have two fairly extreme perspectives on what is "appropriate" from the church and from these guys.
As the Salt Lake Tribune reports:
"I guess they consider hugging groping," Aune said Friday. "Regardless of if a kiss is on the cheek or on the lips, it still is not inappropriate -- unless you are gay, according to the LDS Church."
Aune said he held Jones' hand in the plaza and gave him a kiss on the face.
You know, I'm normally fair and try to give people the benefit of the doubt because people's subjective understanding is different. For example, if we pretend for a moment that he comes from a social circle where revealing clothing is the norm and passionate kissing is just what everyone does all the time and you're not crossing over into lewd until you have your hand in someone's pants, then certainly he very well may believe he would be justified and 'appropriate' in, for example, passionate kissing with full pelvic contact and hands rubbing up and down his partner's back. But at this point, after they've initially claimed it was hand-holding, followed by admitting to a kiss on the cheek, followed by now calling it a kiss on the face and saying there shouldn't be a difference between a kiss on the cheek or the lips, I'm just gonna say my suspicion is confirmed and call bulls#$% on this dude.
Further reflecting on his probably warped view of reality is the following quote from the same article:
Aune said, "I think anyone who was detained against their will in the way we were ... would be upset."
And "be upset" = "swear and revile against the steward of the private property you have been asked to leave"? Well, little man, I guess you live in a world where your emotional reaction justifies unseemly behavior or belligerent reaction. I don't. I live in a world where I choose my actions, and even when I believe I have been mistreated, I am not exonerated from acting like an ass. You, sir, seem to reflect degraded moral character in your, "what did I do?" rhetoric. "Victim" my a--...nkles.
Do I blindly accept the church's explanation and dismiss any suspicion that the guards did with a gay couple what they would have done with any mixed-sex couple? No. I still don't believe the standard of behavior is the same for same-sex couples, and I think the church will eat those words if they continue to stand by them. I think there is a double standard, and the church should either change it or own it. But I think the church has made a smart move here. It's too bad they were forced into a corner from which they were compelled to call the men out on their apparently downplayed portrayal of their PDA. If these Tribune quotes are accurate, it sounds like the boys know they're caught.
I wonder if they'll continue to challenge the church on the reality of the story. We're apparently still waiting to see if security cameras caught anything. If they force it, might the church release video footage? Can these boys stand up to such evidence? Will they instead acknowledge their initial deception but focus on the actions of the guards as patently discriminatory by dealing with them in a way they can't prove they've dealt with mixed-sex couples? Do they realize the risk of taking on the Church's formidable legal and PR departments?
Maybe we'll find out. But I'm not losing any sleep over it.
Other related news:
Second 'kiss-in' planned at SLC Temple
Police report on men's plaza kiss released
Gay incident reopens Salt Lake City's Main Street plaza wounds
Update over at Northern Lights:
LDS Newsroom: “Church Clarifies Record on Plaza Incident”