The dust has barely settled on last week's presidential election, but a new political action committee is looking ahead to 2014.
Missourians for Equality are poised to begin collecting signatures for a new ballot initiative that would make discrimination based on sexual-orientation or gender identity illegal.
The group was formed in July and promised not only to pursue an anti-discrimination law, but to go after the ultimate prize: legalization of same-sex marriage in Missouri.
According to the group's website, the language of the ballot initiative was submitted to the Secretary of State on November 7. Once approved, the group will begin its two year long signature gathering effort. They'll need 150,000 and hope that the long time frame will make hitting that number a breeze.
"In our opinion, the failure of most Missouri voter initiatives is due not to the fact that there aren't enough people willing to sign any particular petition, but to the fact that campaigns are unable to collect those signatures on time," a statement on the website reads. "By starting nearly two and half years before these issues would appear on the ballot, we are ensuring that a lack of time will not keep us from gathering the necessary signatures."
The ballot initiative would add language to the "Missouri Fairness in Housing and Employment Initiative," updating its definition of "discrimination" (new language highlighted and bolded):
"Discrimination," any unfair treatment based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age as it relates to employment, disability, or familial status as it relates to housing; but this section shall not be construed to require any religious denomination or any officiant acting as a representative of a religious denomination to take any action that places a substantial burden on their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Many cities in Missouri, including St. Louis, have passed non-discrimination language into their local ordinances, but that's not always gone over smoothly in other places. A similar bill proposed in Springfield got so much opposition that the city council tabled it.
Intriguingly, when the group first announced its formation, they also pledged to fight for the legalization of same-sex marriage, which would be a 250,000 signature endeavor. Judging from the website, the group is not quite ready to tackle that big kahuna just yet.
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