By Mike McKibbin / NewsBreak Denver / July 20, 2023
[CASTLE ROCK, COLO.] — Two more attempts to regulate an annual LGBTQ+ event at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock failed at Tuesday night’s town council meeting.
Motions to clarify whether the town has jurisdiction over the fairgrounds and to consider amending the town code so it could regulate events like the annual Castle Rock Pride-sponsored drag show were defeated by identical 3-4 votes.
The action followed both of the council’s June meetings, where citizens addressed their concerns in the wake of last summer’s PrideFest. At the event, a male drag show performer exposed fake female breasts to an audience that included children.
Castle Rock Pride called the incident a “wardrobe malfunction” and banned the performer from future events. They also amended their guidelines to help prevent a repeat of the incident. The Douglas County Commissioners also revised fairgrounds policies in response to the incident.
Jurisdiction not the main issue
During council comments at the start of the meeting, Councilmember Laura Cavey made a motion to clarify whether the town has jurisdiction over the fairgrounds — located in Castle Rock, the county seat — by the council’s Aug. 15 meeting.
“I believe Castle Rock has jurisdiction over the fairgrounds,” Cavey said. “If anything happens there, we will be among those legally liable. The fairgrounds are within the town limits and subject to town ordinances, so it should be treated as such.”
Town Attorney Michael Hyman said he met with County Attorney Jeff Garcia after the June meetings, but that jurisdiction is not at the heart of the issue.
“It’s a matter of who operates the fairgrounds and their policies,” Hyman added. “And that’s in the hands of the Douglas County Commissioners.”
Hyman said the town and county have concurrent jurisdiction over most of the fairgrounds property.
“The fairgrounds are in the town limits, and the sheriff’s department has jurisdiction throughout the county,” Hyman stated. “The town provides a police presence at its facilities, and the sheriff’s department provides a presence at all county buildings.”
Town Manager Dave Corliss said the only part of the fairgrounds property not annexed into the town is part of the park area, where soccer activities are often held. He also noted the sheriff’s department would respond to an incident at PrideFest. A town officer would respond to calls like a noise complaint about a fairgrounds concert that ran late and violated the town’s noise ordinance.
Corliss and Hyman also noted state statutes related to indecency have stricter penalties than any possible town petty offense penalty. Both law enforcement agencies enforce state laws.
Cavey and fellow council members Tim Dietz and Max Brooks voted for the jurisdiction motion. Mayor Jason Gray, Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bracken, and council members Ryan Hollingshead and Desiree LaFleur voted against it.
‘Legislate with righteousness’
Dietz then moved to have an item placed on the Aug. 15 meeting agenda to consider amending the town code’s public peace, morals, and welfare section.
Reading from a prepared statement, Dietz asked why Castle Rock is not doing all it can to protect its children from actions that “seek to pervert and pursue children.”
“I’m still disappointed in the Douglas County Commissioners and their lack of courage to protect our children,” Dietz added. “No one is willing to do the right thing because it’s (a) too hot” issue.
“The right thing is to not allow sexual perversion shows to be held on taxpayer property,” he stated. “Why is evil continuously coming after our children, whether through sexual confusion, grooming, drugs, and over-legalization of every vice?”
Dietz called for the town council to “legislate with righteousness” rather than risk.
“For good people to stand by and do nothing only brings shame and apathy,” he said.
Code change wouldn’t affect PrideFest
“No one in this room wants our kids exposed to genitals,” said Hollingshead. “Last year’s event wasn’t advertised to expose kids like it did, but it happened. It’s been addressed, the group has been put on notice, and they won’t bring out 20 naked people. And if they do, they’ll be cited. That’s what we all want to happen.”
Brooks noted that even if the council were to approve a new law to address the issue at their Aug. 15 meeting, it wouldn’t take effect until after the Aug. 26 PrideFest event due to publication requirements of new laws. However, he said a discussion could still be a positive step.
Bracken said he had seen videos of last summer’s incident and called it “appalling and absolutely, outrageously not OK.”
“There should have been action taken against them,” he added of the lack of prosecution of the performer or Castle Rock Pride. “But we’re recycling the same information and wasting our time on this issue. If things get out of hand again, it’s already handled.”
The same three council members voted for the town code motion and the same four were opposed.