Missourians for Equality pushes for student help

[caption id="attachment_14067" align="alignnone" width="286"] Aaron Malin, executive director (left) and Monica Nelson, co-founder (right) pose outside the Secretary of States office in Jefferson City, Missouri. They have filed to petition a ballot measure for the next election.[/caption]   One group thinks Missouri’s youngest voters are the key to its goals. Missourians for Equality seeks a 2014 ballot initiative to support same-sex marriage. Aaron Malin, executive director of Missourians for Equality, believes the youth vote will be a determining factor for passage of the initiative. The organization plans to travel throughout the state to campuses to recruit students for help. He said a recent poll from Public Policy Polling showed in June 2012 that 64 percent of Missourians support either same-sex marriage or civil unions. “Most of those people will vote for us,” Malin said. “We are using every avenue out there to find support. The campaign for signatures will begin in late December.” On Nov. 7, the group filed on its initiative. This would allow the collection of signatures to begin. Monica Nelson, co-founder of Missourians for Equality, said that she thinks voters will approve of non-discrimination toward individuals of the LGBTQ community. “I am optimistic that this measure will pass,” Nelson said. “We saw four states vote in favor of LGBT rights, so this is a very sign that we will see a shift in other states to pass pro LGBT initiates.” Students of the Western LGBTQ organization are beginning to take action since the initiative has been filed with the Secretary of State’s office. Keisha Davis, president of Western LGBTQ, feels it will take a lot for it to pass, but anything is possible. She plans to do everything in her power to see it pass. “I think it absolutely needs to be put on the ballot,” Davis said. “My best friends are engaged, and I don’t think it’s fair they have to go to the next closest state just to make their commitment to one another legal.” There are still those who believe the initiative is needed but see a slim chance of the voters passing the measure if gets on the ballot. Zachary Johnson, former Western student and openly gay man, said he thinks America does have a problem with gay marriage, but they are coming around. “I have heard things like gay marriage is going to be the downfall of the human race,” Johnson said. “People just need to realize that it’s 2012 and that people can’t help who they fall in love with.” On Nov. 6, Nelson said Americans saw three states legalize same-sex marriage and a fourth prevent a ban on same-sex marriage. She believes it was a huge step forward and a victory for the LGBTQ rights movement. “I think there is a bright light ahead of this dark tunnel for marriage equality in the future,” Nelson said. “I believe this will create a domino effect and we will see same-sex marriage be legalized across the country in the next several years.” The group plans to have all 150,000 signatures by the end of 2013, and it started a website where Missourians can go sign the petition at www.missouriansforequality.com

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