Friday, July 10, 2009

The Main Street easement

LDS Church security harrassed and detained a gay couple walking down Main Street in Salt Lake yesterday. The offense? A kiss on the cheek. The men were forced to the ground and roughly handcuffed. Etc.

You can read the whole episode here, here and here.

I remember the public dispute over selling part of Main Street to the Church. Apparently, there is an easement that guarantees public access but gives the Church an unusual amount of power over the terms of that access.The Church promised during that debate that all would be welcome on the newly privatized street.

This is a PR disaster, BTW. The LDS Church's brand strategy seems to be increasingly tied to its disdain for gays. This doesn't play well in the America I live in.

Update: Apparently, there's no easement. The city sold it to the Church in 2003. It's unclear to me what rights if any the public now has to walk down this section of Main Street. A timeline of events can be found here.


Grant Haws said...

This sort of thing is beyond "peculiar people" and truly makes Mormons look ridiculous. And definitely far from being the most "Christian" people in the country.

MoHoHawaii said...

Hi Grant,

I told this story to my boyfriend Tobi who is a very sweet-natured Japanese guy. He said "I hate Mormons!" I've never heard him say anything like that before.

I've been reading the Mormon 'bloggernacle' lately. I probably shouldn't do this because of the incredible bigotry I encounter there. The worst part is that Mormon bloggers are quite a bit less rabid than mainstream non-blogging Mormons, so I can only imagine how bad it would be in the foyer of the local stake center.

El Genio said...

While the easement did exist originally, the church ended up purchasing it from the city, so public access to the plaza is no longer guarunteed.

MoHoHawaii said...

Hi E.G.,

Thanks for the update. Are you saying that the Church currently has the right to fence off that part of Main Street and refuse all access to public if it chose? This gets weirder and weirder.

Rich said...
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Rich said...

The Church has had the ability to fence the plaza off for a while if it so chooses. So far it has not chosen to do so and I don't think it will. The easement was relinquished by the City of Salt Lake a few years ago in exchange for land on the west side of the valley for a community center. The relinquished easement was challenged by the ACLU shortly thereafter, but the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Church. It's completely private property. No easement currently exists.

MoHoHawaii said...

Hi Rich,

Thanks for the information. All I can say is wow.