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Finding aid to the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA) records, 1977-1991 Coll2012.160
Coll2012.160  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Arrangement
  • Historical Note
  • Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Scope and Contents
  • Separated Materials

  • Title: Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA) records
    Identifier/Call Number: Coll2012.160
    Contributing Institution: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 2.5 linear feet. 1 archival box + 3 archival cartons
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1983-1985
    Date (inclusive): 1977-1991
    Abstract: The Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles records document the business functions, fundraising operations, and outreach programs of the political action committee during its existence from 1977-1991. The bulk of the collection comprises board meeting minutes, agendas, and financial reports, as well as correspondence to and from political figures lobbying for support of gay and lesbian rights.
    creator: MECLA (Organization). Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles.

    Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in the following series:
    Series 1. MECLA records, 1977-1991

    Historical Note

    Established in 1977 by members of the Orion gay men's consciousness raising group, the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA) was a political action committee supporting and contributing funds to political candidates in favor of human rights and, in particular, gay and lesbian rights. Although there were some administrative changes over the years, MECLA's executive structure consisted of two co-chairs, up to 16 members of the board of directors, and numerous ex-officio directors forming a board of governors. The directors were broken down by pairs into committees that controlled the day-to-day and long range functions of the business. As a show of their support of both gay and lesbian rights, the constituency of these groups was split evenly by males and females.
    Initially focused on issues at the city and county level, MECLA's sphere of influence rapidly expanded to include political support of gay rights at the state and federal level. MECLA's first political victory was the passage of a Los Angeles city ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. At the state level, MECLA fought against California’s Proposition 6, known as the Briggs Initiative, defeating legislation aimed at keeping gay teachers out of the classroom. MECLA played a role in striking down Proposition 64, the LaRouche Initiative, classifying AIDS as a communicable disease. MECLA helped push Assembly Bill 1 through the California legislature to end statewide discrimination based on sexual orientation, although it was later vetoed by the governor.
    Not all of MECLA’s work was viewed favorably by the gay population. MECLA’s directors actively opposed the presence of gay bath houses in Los Angeles and worked for their closure at the height of the 1980s AIDS epidemic.
    MECLA was widely known for its fundraising events, the largest of which were the MECLA anniversary parties held every spring. Hollywood celebrities and politicians at every level would gather at these parties and dinners, raising six-figure bounties which were directly funneled to MECLA’s causes. One of the more successful events was a dinner with Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, the first female nominee for the Vice Presidency. With the goal of sensitizing politicians and the community at large to the issues affecting the gay community, MECLA also participated in community events, voter registration drivers, speaking engagements, and efforts to put gays in government appointed posts. MECLA ceased operations in April 1991.
    Source: Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA) records, Coll2012.160, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California

    Access

    The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Acquisition Information

    Source and date of acquisition unknown.

    Preferred Citation

    Box #, folder #, Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA) records, Coll2012.160, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Erick Hawkins, November 1, 2012.

    Related Archival Materials

    Larry Sprenger Papers, Coll2012.167, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California

    Scope and Contents

    The Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles records document the business functions, fundraising operations, and outreach programs of the political action committee during its existence from 1977-1991. The bulk of the collection comprises records maintained while MECLA was co-chaired by Larry Sprenger and Carol E. Childs from 1983-1985. The collection consists of board meeting agendas and minutes, financial reports and associated records, correspondence to and from elected officials, and records relating to the administrative and functional operations of the 17 formal committees of the board. Also included are fliers, direct mailings, and video recordings of MECLA anniversary dinners.

    Separated Materials

    ACLU of Southern California Lesbian & Gay Rights Chapter News, March 1984
    Society for Senior Gay & Lesbian Citizens Newsletter, Volume 1, No 1
    The Log, July-August 1984, Volume 3, No 2
    Update, No. 146, October 3, 1984; No. 169, March 20, 1985; No. 191, August 21, 1985; No. 203, November 13, 1985; No. 377, March 15, 1989
    People, August 12, 1985; September 23, 1985; October 21, 1985
    Newsweek, August 12, 1985
    MECLA, Spring 1981; Winter/Spring 1982; Summer 1983; Winter 1983; April 1984; June 1984; Mid-Winter 1984; November 1984; February 1985; August 1985; January 1986; Winter/Spring 1988
    Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Volume 113, No 314, March 11, 1984
    Midnight Alarm, Volume 2, No 4, Spring-Summer 1985
    Friends of the Center Roast of Gayle Wilson, program
    AGLA, fifth media awards program
    ECCO, 1984 dinner program and calendar
    The Honor Roll: A narrative portrait of the California State Assembly by Willie L. Brown, Jr., undated

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Gays--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States--California
    Gays--Political activity
    Homosexuality--Law and legislation--California
    Homosexuality--Political aspects--California--Los Angeles