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Finding aid to the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA) records, 1977-1991

Finding aid prepared by Erick Hawkins, © 2012

Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Summary Information

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
MECLA (Organization). Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles.
Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA) records
Collection no.
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1983-1985
Date [inclusive]
2.5 linear feet., 1 archival box + 3 archival cartons
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.

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

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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

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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.

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This collection is arranged in the following series:

Series 1. MECLA records, 1977-1991

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
© 2012
909 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, California, 90007
(213) 821-2771


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 ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries 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.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Erick Hawkins, November 1, 2012.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials

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

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

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Controlled Access Headings


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

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Collection Inventory

Series 1:  Series 1. MECLA records 1977-1991  (Bulk, 1983-1985)


This series is arranged alphabetically by business function. Executive records are followed by committee records.

 Executive records 1977-1991   [23 folders]

Box Folder

 Annual report 1985 

1 1

 Board meeting minutes 1978, 1983-1991   [6 folders]

1 2-7

 Bylaws undated 

1 8

 Correspondence 1977-1988  (Bulk, 1984-1985)   [9 folders]

Scope and Contents

The correspondence file contains letters to and from contributors, supporters, board members, and political candidates and officials at all level of government.

1 9-18

 Financial reports 1983-1985, 1990-1991   [3 folders]

1 19-21

 Incorporation papers 1984 

1 22

 Master calendar 1983-1985 

1 23

 Retained attorney notes 1984-1992 

1 24

 Administration committee 1978-1989, undated   [10 folders]

Box Folder

 Administration committee 1983-1984, undated 

1 25

 Brochures and fliers undated 

3 1

 Direct mail, events 1978-1979   [2 folders]

3 2-3

 Direct mail, other 1984, undated 

1 26

 Employment Development Department 1989 

1 27

 Human resources 1982-1986 

1 28

 Internal memos, notes, and fact sheets 1978, 1983-1985, undated  (Bulk, 1983-1985)

1 29

 Roster, board of governors/directors 1984-1985, undated 

1 30

 Roster, committees 1983-1985 

1 31

 Advocacy committee 1983-1986, undated   [2 folders]

Box Folder

 Advocacy committee 1983-1985, undated 

2 1

 No on 64 campaign report 1986 

2 2

 Dinner committee 1979-1990, undated   [11 folders]

Box Folder

 Dinner committee 1979, 1983-1985, undated  (Bulk, 1983-1985)

1 32

 Anniversary dinner ad books 1982-1990   [4 folders]

3 4-7

 Correspondence, Geraldine Ferraro event 1984-1985 

1 33
Box Item

 Video recordings 1983-1985   [5 folders] (4) U-matic storage tapes labeled MECLA 4-23-83 #1 Ends With Tribute to Gayle Wilson,  MECLA 4-23-83 #2, and  MECLA 1985 Dinner (2 tapes). (1) VHS tape labeled  Innovision "MECLA" dub 9/12/84.

4 1-5

 Political committee 1977-1989, undated   [11 folders]

Box Folder

 Political committee 1978, 1983, 1985-1987, undated  (Bulk, 1978-1987)

1 34

 1978 Los Angeles police chief selection notes 1977-1978 

1 35

 Contributions 1983-1985 

1 36

 Direct mail, endorsements 1985-1986, undated 

1 37

 Government vacancies lists 1983-1984 

1 38

 Legislative bills 1982-1985 

1 39

 Newspaper clippings 1977-1989  (Bulk, 1983-1985)   [4 folders]

3 8-11

 Protests against MECLA 1985, undated 

1 40

 Finance committee 1983-1991, undated   [15 folders]

Box Folder

 Finance committee 1983-1984, undated 

1 41

 Bank statements and cancelled checks 1984, 1988-1991  (Bulk, 1988-1991)   [3 folders]

1 42-44

 Bank statements and cancelled checks, federal account 1988-1991   [4 folders]

1 45-48

 Bank statements and cancelled checks, state account 1990-1991   [3 folders]

2 3-5

 Budgets 1983-1986 

1 49

 Certificates of deposit 1989 

2 6

 Federal Elections Commission, California Secretary of State 1984 

1 50

 Tax records 1985, 1990 

1 51

 Public relations committee 1979-1988, undated   [3 folders]

Box Folder

 Public relations committee 1983, undated 

1 52

 Press releases, MECLA 1979, 1982-1988, undated  (Bulk, 1983-1985)

1 53

 Public relations and marketing 1983-1985 

1 54

 Speaker's bureau 1984, undated   [2 folders]

Box Folder

 Speaker's bureau undated 

2 7

 Californians for Justice 1984 

2 8

 Other committees 1977-1985, undated   [12 folders]

Box Folder

 Ad hoc committees 1984, undated 

2 9

 Ad hoc committees, correspondence and notes, other political action committees 1983-1985 

2 10

 Ad hoc, committees, press releases, other agencies 1984-1985 

2 11

 Advisory committee 1977-1978, 1983, undated 

1 55

 Benefactor committee 1983-1985, undated 

2 12

 Civic breakfast committee 1983, undated 

1 56

 Civic events committee 1984, undated 

2 13

 Elections committee 1983-1985, undated 

2 14

 Foundation committee 1983-1984, undated 

1 57

 Nominating committee 1984-1985 

2 15

 Republican committee 1983, undated 

1 58

 Voter registration committee 1983-1984 

1 59

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