Attempts to Overturn Affirmative Action
Are on the Ballot in 5 More States
Update: One Victory, Four More to Go
April 17, 2008
Thanks to the work of activists encouraging people to "Decline to Sign," Oklahoma voters will not face a ballot initiative to ban the use of racial, ethnic and gender preferences by public colleges and state and local agencies. Anti-opportunity forces filed a motion to withdraw the proposal because they did not believe they had gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, according to local press accounts. To get on the ballot, the petitioners would have needed 138,970 valid signatures. The Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office counted 141,184 signatures on the petition, but found a large number of duplicates. Secretary of State M. Susan Savage indicated the signature count "resulted in an unprecedented situation where large numbers of duplicate names and addresses were discovered well into the signature counting process... [and] it is a reasonable assumption that not all duplicates have been discovered."
"This is an important victory for everyone in Oklahoma who believes in ending discrimination and defending affirmative action programs," stated Melody Drnach, NOW Action Vice President. "NOW activists pledge to continue our work to defeat the other four anti-affirmative action ballot initiatives."
Continue reading original article...
Opponents of Equal Opportunity Determined to Protect Their Privilege
April 10, 2008
The right wing is at it again, gathering signatures in five states in an effort to place anti-affirmative action initiatives on the ballots for the November election. For months, Ward Connerly and his band of anti-opportunity crusaders have been working overtime in Colorado, Missouri, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Nebraska to make sure that the anti-woman, anti-civil rights, anti-affirmative action initiatives have enough qualified signatures to get on the ballots. Connerly himself is a multi-millionaire who was awarded government contracts as part of affirmative action outreach, and then he turned around and led the successful fight to ban affirmative action at the University of California in admissions, employment and contracting.
Then, to further eliminate affirmative action programs in the U.S., Connerly founded the misleadingly-named American Civil Rights Institute. The institute's website says that its goal is to "educate the American people of the harms of race preferences." The organization touts "significant victories in California, Washington and Michigan" and targets the November election as the "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights to bring our nation one step closer to realizing the promise of the 1964 Civil Rights Act - color-blind government."
If enough verified signatures are collected by the summer deadline, voters will face a relentless fall campaign of misinformation and thinly-veiled racism designed to turn back affirmative action and equal opportunity programs. NOW activists have battled these initiatives in every state, and our members will once again join the fight to defend the goal of equal opportunity that is part of the affirmative action programs in public institutions.
Often labeled with deceptive ballot titles, these efforts to roll back individual rights and opportunities are often referred to as "Civil Rights Initiatives." Some states have attempted to clarify proposal language so that the intent is clear to voters. For example, the Office of Attorney General in the State of Oklahoma prepared a substitute ballot title clarifying that the initiative ". . . makes State affirmative action programs unlawful. Affirmative action programs improve opportunities for minorities and women." In Colorado, a substitute amendment with language that makes clear the intent of the initiative is making its way through the formal process.
If these initiatives pass, they will eliminate measures that currently provide a path for women- and minority-owned businesses to receive government contracts, along with programs that provide university scholarships and admissions for under-represented communities. Supporters of "real" civil rights and affirmative action have become more pro-active in organizing to defeat the initiatives. Battle-hardened from a string of losses in earlier states, state-level grassroots coalitions have formed to find ways to keep the initiatives from making it to the ballots and are waging "Decline to Sign" campaigns.
NOW recognizes and is determined to eradicate the inequalities that continue to exist for women and people of color in our nation's schools and businesses. Activists, in partnership with civil rights coalitions in all five states, are working hard on the ground to examine the signatures that have been collected and submitted, since a certain number of verified signatures is a requirement to place the initiative on the ballot. Activists also are conducting voter education activities in support of equal opportunity.
What the anti-affirmative action initiatives seek to do:
Affirmative action programs are part of our collective determination to end gender and race discrimination. Until we have fully eradicated the dual and vicious costs of racism and sexism in our society, we must press for programs that affirmatively address the disparities that result from centuries of white male privilege. Until we reach full social, legal and economic equality throughout our society, NOW pledges to continue our work to protect and defend affirmative action programs across the country.
Actions | Join - Donate | Chapters | Members | Issues | Privacy | RSS | Links | Home
© 1995-2012 National Organization for Women, All Rights Reserved. Permission granted for non-commercial use.