Missourians for Equality received approval from the Missouri Secretary of State at the end of December to begin collecting signatures for a petition to amend Missouri’s nondiscrimination policy.
The political action committee filed for approval Nov. 7, 2012 and after the typical six to 10 week waiting period, they received permission to begin collecting the 105,000 signatures they need to get on the 2014 ballot, said Monica Nelson, co-founder of Missourians for Equality.
To kick off the campaign, Missourians for Equality is hosting six events across the state during the weekend of Jan. 19, said Brenda Fraser, Resource Director for Missourians for Equality.
She said kickoff parties occur an opportunity for supporters to share their stories with the public and gather further support for the campaign, as well as signatures for the statewide petition. Fraser said events will be held in St. Louis, Kansas City, St. Joseph and Kirksville. Additionally, there will be events Jan. 18 in Columbia and Jan. 20 in St. Charles.
The Kirksville event will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at Trinity Episcopal Church and soft drinks and snacks will be provided, said Kevin Minch, Senior Warden at Trinity Episcopal Church and Director of the Truman Institute.
He said personalized invitations have been sent via email and Facebook, and between the confirmed RSVP’s and the people he’s talked to, he hopes for a good turnout, but it’s too soon to tell.
“We’re targeting everybody, but obviously Kirksville will have a fairly high concentration of students because it’s predominantly a college town,” said Aaron Malin, Executive Director of Missourians for Equality. “But I don’t necessarily see that would be the case in the other cities.”
He said he’s hoping for a turnout of a couple dozen supporters at the Kirksville event, and maybe twice as many at the other events, with St. Louis having the most potential for supporters.
Volunteers will run the Kirksville event and will provide food and drinks, Minch said. He said he was approached by Truman State professor Sherri Palmer on behalf of Missourians for Equality to talk about Trinity Episcopal Church as a possible site for the event, and he agreed to help.
“It’s a topic that I feel pretty strongly about and that’s how I got on board,” Minch said.
Minch said despite the fact that he isn’t directly involved with Missourians for Equality, he’ll continue to support the organization after the event.
“I have an administrative role here at the university so I’m pretty busy — I haven’t had a whole lot of time to get involved outside [the university],” Minch said. “Having this event in January, the timing was good to get the church involved in something and [Missourians for Equality] certainly lines up with the mission of the church I attend.”
Missourians for Equality is a nonpartisan political action committee founded during July 2012 with the goal of remedying the exclusion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from Missouri’s nondiscrimination policy, according to a press release by Missourians for Equality.
“We’re a political action committee that is trying to further LGBT rights in Missouri, and we’re accomplishing this through a ballot initiative process,” Nelson said.
Missourians for Equality is expecting most of their signatures to come from big cities like St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia, Nelson said.
“If you look at past elections they’re the ones that tend to vote for more liberal ideals,” Nelson said. “We’re expecting quite a few from Truman itself. We feel that the Truman population is pretty open-minded.”
The group has until May 2014 to collect the roughly 105,000 signatures they need, Nelson said. However, she said they were aiming to reach the goal by the end of the year, and were confident they could reach it.
Missourians for Equality will be hosting events about once every other week in all the major cities, and these events will become more frequent as the weather warms up, Malin said. He also said there will be a major campus kick-off in Kirksville sometime within the next two to three weeks.
For more information about events or to volunteer, visit moforequality.virb.com.