By Doug McMillan / Gazette Journal
FALLON - Churchill County's district attorney said Wednesday he will seek a court injunction today to try to stop the Gay Rodeo National Championship from taking place on private property this weekend in Fallon.
Kevin Pasquale made the vow after a group of 50 anti-gay rodeo protesters presented Churchill County commissioners and Sheriff Bill Lawry Jr. with a petition signed by 1,519 people asking them to keep it out of their community.
Les Krambeal, president of the International Gay Rodeo Association, said his group still plans to hold the rodeo from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Stockman's Arena, a 19-acre site on Union Lane four miles south of Fallon.
"I think the chances of physical confrontation out there is very real, and l'm going to have a hard time doing anything about it," Lawry said.
"There will be no confrontation on our part," Krambeal said.
He said he expects about 1,500 people to attend each day.
Krambeal moved the event to this farming town 60 miles east of Reno after the University of Nevada's Lawlor Events Center canceled a contract to hold it there and organizers were unable to find an arena anywhere else.
Arena owner David Lantry signed a contract for the association to hold the event on his property after Churchill County commissioners rejected Krambeal's request last week to use the Churchill County Fairgrounds.
When Lantry applied to reinstate his liquor license for the arena, which lapsed four years ago, the application set off a furor at Wednesday's liquor board meeting.
With the three county commissioners and Lawry sitting as the liquor board, about 50 gay rodeo opponents jammed the hearing room, with a score more unable to get in from the hall. The board unanimously denied the application after listening to them denounce the gay rodeo for an hour.
Lantry said that wouldn't affect the rodeo since he still had a business license allowing him to lease the place.
Opponents' objections centered on a fear of AIDS, disapproval of gay lifestyles and zoning questions.
"lt's not safe for them to be there," said Judy Renfrow, a Union Lane resident and one of the petition circulators. "If they put 300 people in there, the place is crowded."
"We feel threatened by a group of people coming in whose philosophies are different than ours," added Jorald Sorensen. "We don't want our kids to see any of this. It's offending."
"If I were a man, I'd put two or three big hay trucks across Highway 50 and block it this weekend," said Doreen Morrow.
"To me, they're making a fiasco of the cowboy," complained Lois Woodley. "They're making fun of our heritage."
Only one person spoke in favor of the event.
"I don't want to see an exercise in homophobia," said San Francisco talk show host Ed Anderson, a former Fallon resident. "I don't want to see an exercise in hatred."
County commissioners scheduled an emergency meeting this morning to give the district attorney authority to seek an injunction against the rodeo.
Pasquale said he would base the lawsuit on public health and safety concerns.