Up in Mormon country, Salt Lake City Prosecutor Sim Gill has opted out of prosecuting a gay couple cited for trespassing after they shared a kiss on the plaza. The Mormon Church has owned the plaza for about ten years, having purchased it from the city , and wanted it to be an inviting, beautiful space for all to enjoy.
That, however, is the problem.
"The two individuals believed--albeit mistakenly--that they had the right to be there," Gill said. "Fairness requires that either that property be not open to the public or you condition that [openness] in a way that the person who comes on understands that it is private property."
In other words, Mormon Church, post a sign calling the plaza private property and then, only then, can you regulate behavior.
Gill said his decision not to prosecute this particular case "should not be viewed as limiting" the ability of the church to enforce its private-property rights on the plaza in the future. "Going forward," he said, "working toward clarity [on the plaza] serves everyone's interests in this community."
Gill also cites the lack of signs on the plaza that indicate visitors are entering private property "at will," meaning they can be ejected at any time for any reason. Gates around the plaza, akin to those encircling the Salt Lake Mormon Temple next door, would make the plaza's private nature more clear, Gill acknowledged. But he did not recommend any specific solutions.
The Mormon Church did not respond to questions about whether it will alter access to the plaza or change the way it advertises rules on the property, commenting only on the city's decision to drop the trespassing charges.
"While we feel the city had the necessary elements available for prosecution in this matter," spokeswoman Kim Farah said via e-mail, "the decision on whether to move forward or not rests with the city prosecutor."
Simply put, the church is not happy the case was dismissed.
What goes around.......