PHOENIX, AZ - (June 22, 2009) - Arizona has just taken a major step towards dismantling race and gender preferences and discrimination in state and local government. Today, the state Senate voted to place an initiative on the 2010 general election ballot barring discrimination against - or preferential treatment for - any individual on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. The Arizona House approved identical legislation last week.
"Today we are giving Arizonans an opportunity to tell our government to end this form of legalized discrimination once and for all," remarked Rachel Alexander, Chair of the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative.
"I am appalled personally by the thought that government tells me that I am not good enough to compete," added Arizona State Representative Steve Montenegro ( R-Litchfield Park ), sponsor of the House version of the legislation.
While several other states have launched similar ballot initiatives through signature gathering campaigns, Arizona is the first legislature to refer the Civil Rights Initiative to the ballot. If approved by Arizona voters next year, the measure would amend the state constitution to effectively end Affirmative Action programs that grant preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education and public contracting.
Alexander continued, "We are responding to a clear message from our citizens who are fed up with the government favoring members of one race or sex while discriminating against another." She noted that a recent Wilson Research Strategies survey of likely Arizona voters found that large majorities oppose preferential policies in college admissions, government employment and government contracting.
Senator Russell Pearce, sponsor of the Senate version of the measure noted: "Affirmative Action and other forms of race and gender based preferences have created an uneven playing field for too long in Arizona . Now our voters will have a chance to put an end to this form of government discrimination once and for all."
"Today's vote is a major milestone on the road to restoring true fairness and equality in public life," commented Arizona Senate President Bob Burns. "The citizens of Arizona are telling us they want to move away from Affirmative Action and toward equal opportunity for all," he added.
Arizona's effort to effectively end the system of race and gender preferences was bolstered by educational and research efforts of the American Civil Rights Institute, a nationally recognized non-profit civil rights organization dedicated to educating the public about the harms of racial and gender preferences. Ward Connerly , along with, ACRI's sister organization, the American Civil Rights Coalition (ACRC) has been instrumental in promoting similar efforts in California, Washington, Michigan and Nebraska. "This historic moment for Arizona would not have been possible without the experience, guidance and support of the American Civil Rights Institute and American Civil Rights Coalition," remarked Max McPhail, Executive Director of the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative committee.
"What's happening in Arizona is the continuation of a trend that began over a decade ago in California ," observed ACRI founder Ward Connerly , who led the successful passage of California 's Proposition 209 in 1996. "There is simply no place for race or gender preferences in American law and public institutions," he added.
A recent Quinnipiac University National Poll finds American voters overwhelmingly in favor of abolishing Affirmative Action. The survey also shows voters disagree by more than 3 to 1 with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's ruling in favor of racial preferences in a case involving firefighters in New Haven , CT.
Paid for by the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative Committee PO Box 545 Grain Valley, MO 64029 · www.missouricri.org
Paid for by the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative Committee
PO Box 545 Grain Valley, MO 64029 · www.missouricri.org