Civil Rights Groups Protect Affirmative Action in Two Key StatesApril 2, 2004
by NOW Staff
At a time when civil rights are under heavy attack, advocates for affirmative action had not one by two victories to cheer about last week.
On March 25, a Michigan judge ruled that a proposed state ballot initiative banning affirmative action is "blatantly in direct conflict" with the equal protection clause of the state constitution. Ward Connerly, an infamous anti-affirmative action crusader, has been leading a petition drive to get the deceptively-named Michigan Civil Rights Initiative on the ballot in November, and he is expected to appeal.
Judge Paula Manderfield also found that the initiative does not fully inform voters of its impact on the state's constitution and ruled that a state elections board must rescind its approval of the petition. The ruling was a result of two lawsuits filed by broad coalitions of progressive groups.
In Colorado, a state that has been the site of much negative news lately, the Senate defeated the similarly-misnamed Colorado Civil Rights Act by a vote of 18-17. The legislation would have rolled back affirmative action in public education, government and state contracting. Activists in the Colorado Unity Coalition put forth an energetic grassroots lobbying effort that swayed one Republican state senator to oppose the anti-affirmative action bill, ensuring its defeat.
"The positive developments in Michigan and Colorado are a direct result of true civil rights supporters fighting back against campaigns to misinform and discriminate," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "Feminist and other progressive groups will continue to flex our grassroots muscle straight through to November."
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