Affirmative action ban could be on Colorado ballot next year |

Affirmative action ban could be on Colorado ballot next year

the associated press

DENVER ” Colorado could be among the next wave of states where voters are asked to stop government affirmative action programs, including racial preferences in college admissions.

Backed by a California businessman who supported a similar proposal that succeeded in Michigan, the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative announced plans Monday to put the measure on the 2008 ballot.

The proposal, set for its first review by legislative staffers this week, says that the state may not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin. It would apply to hiring, contracts and public education.

“The larger context is we are trying to purge race out of the body,” said Ward Connerly, the backer. “The time to do that is now,” said Connerly, who also backed proposals in California and Washington.

He plans to meet with a group looking at a possible ballot proposal in Missouri on Tuesday followed by visits to Oklahoma and Arizona.

Connerly said Barack Obama’s candidacy and the swift reaction to Don Imus’ remarks about the Rutgers basketball team show that the nation has come along way since affirmative action programs were introduced in the 1960s.

Colorado Civil Rights Initiative executive director Valery Pech Orr said the group cannot put the issue on the ballot until next year because only tax-related issues are permitted in odd-numbered years. Orr, as part owner of Adarand Constructors, was a plaintiff in a Colorado case challenging race and gender preferences in government which went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Connerly said he supports affirmative action based on people’s socio-economic status and anti-discrimination laws. But he said that race-based preferences in state colleges has been a disservice to students who struggle in flagship universities.

Since the passage of the California proposal, Connerly said the number of black students graduating from the University of California-San Diego, for example, has risen.

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