State Question 759 Seeks To End Affirmative Action On State Level

Tuesday, October 23rd 2012, 9:48 pm
By: News On 6

Election Day is two weeks away, and the News On 6 is taking a closer look at one of the state questions on your ballot.

State Question 759 would end affirmative action at the state level with a few exceptions.

Critics of SQ 759 say it's something that was pushed on the ballot by outside interests and is simply not needed in Oklahoma, but supporters say it's a positive step to end discrimination on all levels in the state.

"We are our finest as a nation when we treat people equally," said Ward Connerly.

Connerly is founder of the American Civil Rights Institute based in Sacramento, California.

He's touring Oklahoma to lend support to SQ 759.

10/17/2012 Related Story: Supporters Say State Question 766 Could Impact State Job Growth

The ballot question would amend the state constitution to prohibit affirmative action in three areas that fall under the state government: education, employment, and contracting.

"We're a nation that prides ourselves on equal opportunity for everyone and to give someone special treatment, calling it affirmative action or diversity or anything else, defiles all that we profess to believe," Connerly said.

"I think the companies and corporations that look at Oklahoma—it just looks silly. It makes our state look silly," said Democratic State Representative Jabar Shumate.

Shumate said SQ 759 is unnecessary.

He said hiring quotas are already illegal in Oklahoma and there are no race based-policies at state universities.

Connerly's group has helped pass similar measures in five states since the late ‘90s.

Shumate said he wonders why a California organization is pushing its agenda on Oklahoma.

"There's an interest beyond just the concern of racism here that there is an agenda pushed by folks," Shumate said.

Connerly disagrees and said his organization was invited to the state to show its support of SQ 759.

He says affirmative action, by its very nature, is discriminatory and should be eliminated from state government.

"Every time you use race to, ostensibly, mitigate discrimination you're going to discriminate against somebody else," Connerly said.

State Question 759 would still allow affirmative action in jobs requiring a certain gender, if it's mandated by court, or if it is necessary to qualify for federal funding.