Sixteen months after voters in Michigan voted to kill affirmative action in the public sphere, opponents of preferences based on race and gender are pushing five more states to ban the practice.
Foes of affirmative action, which is meant to address current and historical inequities, delivered 128,744 signatures to Colorado authorities earlier this month. Similar organizations in Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska are circulating petitions as civil rights groups and educators are mobilizing to defeat the measures.
The initiatives are spearheaded by Ward Connerly, the nation’s most prominent opponent of affirmative action, who said he has raised about $1.5 million for the campaigns. He sees the November ballot initiatives as the next step in his drive to end preferences in public education, hiring and contracting… (MSNBC)
It doesn’t surprise me that the movement to ban racial and gender preferences has been given a boost thanks to the presidential campaigns of both Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama. As much as I oppose both of these candidates on their policy stances, I do believe we owe them a debt of gratitude for breaking the perceived ‘glass ceiling’. It matters not whether either of them are successful in winning the White House this November, they both have helped women and minorities with their historic campaigns. My fervent hope is that this will widen the pool of choices for all sides of the political spectrum and we can get better candidates. This could help minority candidates in future runs for high office, like Bobby Jindal, the new Republican governor of Louisiana.
In what must seem perverse to advocates of racial and gender preferences, the serious run for the presidency by both Clinton & Obama also highlights such set asides and calls the need for them into question. It’s about time. I adamantly oppose racial and gender preferences and would dearly love a chance to vote them down in my home state of Virginia. The more states that ban them the better it will be for us a nation since in my view these preferences do more harm than good.
One more thing should be mentioned and that is about media bias in this report. It isn’t surprising that Ward Connerly is described as being “a prosperous and conservative black Republican”. Notice how such code words are never used when his opponents are mentioned, especially prosperous and liberal black Democrats. This also ignores some pertinent information about Connerly, such as that he was born in 1939 and lived through segregation and the Civil Rights Era. According to Wikipedia:
Connerly has stated he is one-fourth black, with the rest a mix of Irish, French, and Choctaw. His father, Roy Connerly, left the household when Ward was 2, and his mother died when Ward was 4. The young Connerly went to live first with an aunt and uncle and then a grandmother…
Ward Connerly sees himself as a Republican with a libertarian philosophy. Despite his close political relationship with former California Governor Pete Wilson and their agreement on the question of Affirmative Action, Connerly spearheaded efforts to grant domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples in all state universities against Wilson’s objection. He says his views on gay rights stem from his libertarian viewpoint that governments, including government-run universities, should not discriminate, whether it’s favoring some students because of their race, or limiting spousal benefits to others based on their sexual orientation.
Further, Connerly’s support for domestic partner benefits earned him the ire of the conservative advocacy groups Family Research Council and Traditional Values Coalition. In reference to Connerly, Robert Knight, Director of Cultural Studies at the Family Research Council, stated, “no true conservative would equate homosexual households with marriages, because we believe that without marriage and family as paramount values, hell will break loose.”
So if Connerly is “prosperous” now, this is because he busted his butt to earn his wealth despite racism and after coming from a broken home. Given his libertarian views, especially concerning gays, he is also hardly a member of the Religious Right. I wish nothing but success to Connerly and those like him in removing these preferences and truly making our country one where a person is judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.
— John (Average Gay Joe)