I had the privilege of attending a gathering recently that included some civil rights warriors. The topic of discussion was making sure that legal discrimination does not return to our state.
Twenty years ago, we fought that battle and defeated Affirmative Action at the ballot box — Washington State citizens voted overwhelmingly to pass Initiative 200 which stopped the practice of Affirmative Action, a policy that allowed state agencies and colleges to base their hiring or acceptance solely on race. This year, in a party-line vote, the Democrats put Affirmative Action back into place with Initiative 1000.
The Republicans tried to force them to put it on the ballot, but they refused. Democrats knew that if the people of Washington were free to vote on this measure, it would fail. The people of this state do not believe in discrimination and preferential treatment — not on race, religion, or gender. Not at all.
We believe that every single person in this country should be judged, not on the color of their skin (or gender, religion, etc.), but by the content of their character and their personal qualifications.
A very small percentage of volunteers did the miraculous, and you will have the opportunity to vote on this issue. Referendum 88 was filed right after the end of the Legislative Session. It required 130,000 signatures to qualify to put on the ballot this November — an overwhelming task. In only six weeks, we were able to get over 220,000 signatures, more than enough to go on the ballot.
This fall, R-88 will be on your ballot. It will be confusing when you see it, because of the way it is worded. R-88 will be the title of the entry on the ballot, but you will be voting on whether to accept I-1000 or reject it.
We must reject I-1000. I-1000 itself is worded in such a way as to be very confusing. It says in the language that the purpose is to stop discrimination. But if you read it carefully, you will see that its purpose is to be able to hand-select based on race, color, religion, gender (they’ve added sexual orientation, as well).
The language talks about “under-representation.” That means that if any agency believes a group is under-represented, they may require hiring from that group, regardless of higher-qualified individuals. They will be able to accept and reject students into colleges based on physical characteristics.
This is wrong, and we must stop this from becoming law — there isn’t one area where we should look at a person’s physical characteristics to judge them, rather than what they have done and who they are as a person.
Ward Connerly, a hero of the civil rights movement, took the time to come to Olympia last Saturday to address a gathering of R-88 volunteers. He is an African American who founded the American Civil Rights Institute. He was also one of the regents of the U of CA years ago when he noticed that the University was accepting students based on their race.
He said that as a person born in Louisiana in 1939, he experienced a great deal of discrimination and would fight all discrimination in every corner of the country as long as he had breath. He helped with the I-200 campaign in 1998 and will return to help defeat discrimination again. I agree with Mr. Connerly — it’s a terrible piece of legislation and must be defeated.
When you see the words R-88 and I-1000 on the ballot this fall, vote to reject. Again, reject legalized discrimination in Washington.