Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Steve Horner renews the fight against ladies' night, targeting Brewski's

He's back! It's seemed so quiet since Steve Horner, the anti-ladies'-night crusader, left town. A half-dozen years ago, he kept bars and restaurants around town hopping as he filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, charging that their ladies'-night deals were discriminatory, since men cannot enjoy the same deals -- even though they can enjoy the women attracted to places that have ladies' night deals. He also filed claims against Westword, arguing that publishing advertisements for establishments with ladies' nights is discriminatory. We won that fight in court, but not before Horner called a local judge a weasel and civil-rights officials "wimps."

See also: Rosa Parks didn't surrender to discrimination and take a different bus. So why should Steve Horner go to a different bar?

Denver was just one of Horner's stops on a two-decade-long campaign, which got its start back in 1992 when, as a single and broke father in Minneapolis, he needed a beer -- but found that deals were only being offered to women at the new Mall of America. So he filed complaints in Minnesota, and then at numerous other spots around the country, often comparing his cause to that of both Rosa Parks and Jesus -- a comparison that particularly tickled The Daily Show, which reported on his Colorado crusade back in 2007.

But then Horner picked up and moved to St. George, Utah, to focus on his book projects. But he was close enough to Las Vegas that he could focus on inequities in Sin City, too. And in 2010 he filed complaints with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission against six casinos -- including the MGM Grand, the Hard Rock Hotel, the Mirage and the Tropicana -- for not letting him into their clubs and pool parties for the discounted ladies' rates. Most of the casinos ignored him, possibly because a law had taken effect that year in Nevada that protects ladies'-night deals -- and the businesses that choose to offer them. But Horner wasn't about to give up the fight. "It's like a drug. I can't stop it," he told a Las Vegas reporter. "Truly, it gives me great pleasure, a great high, because I know I'm doing the right thing."

And he's about to do it again in Colorado. Horner recently drove to Minnesota to see an old friend, and on the way back he visited another friend in the Denver suburbs. They stopped by Brewski's in north Denver, "a nice little place," Horner reports, except for the fact that it hosts a ladies' night on Wednesday. And so before he headed home, Horner once again contacted the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

And back in Utah last week, he got a big packet from the Department of Regulatory Agencies, which houses the division. And he promises that he's going to sit down at his circa 1952 typewriter, fill out the complaint against Brewski's, get it notarized and send it off. But not before Brewski's holds another ladies' night tonight.

"It's a tough battle out there. But the long and short of it is the law is on my side," Horner says. "I didn't write the law. I'm the whistle-blower. I'm the patriot. I'm just standing up for the law."

He's back. Sort of. Although Horner isn't planning on moving, he points out that Colorado is only five or six hours away. "I can drive across the border, to Glenwood Springs or Grand Junction," he points out, "and stir the pot."

Ladies, you've been warned.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun