10.25.2011 0

Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative Aimed Against Preferential Policies Likely to Pass in 2012

By Kevin Mooney — In November 2012, Oklahoma voters will have the opportunity to become part of a growing national movement built around state constitutional amendments that outlaw government sanctioned discrimination.

The key player here is Ward Connerly, a former University of California regent, who was the galvanizing influence behind Proposition 209 (also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative), which passed with 54 percent of the vote in 1996 and amended the state constitution to read: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

With the exception of Colorado, which lost narrowly during the 2008 presidential race, Connerly’s initiatives have passed in every state where they have been placed on the ballot. California, Washington State, Michigan and Nebraska all have constitutional amendments that now outlaw preferences. The summary language attached to the amendments that voters see varies slightly from state to state in that some initiatives offer up a specific definition of the affirmative programs targeted for elimination, while others leave the phrase out all together.

Affirmative action entered into national politics as an executive order issued by President John F. Kennedy in March 1961. Kennedy established a Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and mandated that government contractors and subcontractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color or national origin.”

But affirmative action conveys different meanings into different ears in 21st century America. When it is defined to mean racial quotas and set asides, those programs are voted down. As Net Right Daily has previously reported, left wing pressure groups working in alliance with Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) have taken legal action to overturn existing statues in California and Michigan that enshrine race and gender neutral policies. But the courts and the country as a whole are now positioned against discriminatory practices.

“Government employment and contracting decisions should be based on merit alone,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn of Oklahoma, one of the Republican lawmaker who sponsored the legislation in her state. “If we are going to guarantee all citizens have the opportunity to compete, government must treat them all equally. I believe Oklahoma citizens will overwhelmingly approve this constitutional amendment at the polls and take a stand for equality.”

Osborn and other supporters expect the initiative to pass.

Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government.

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