The federation is opposing the state question, as is the League of Women Voters, which issued the following statement:
“In states that have passed bans on affirmative action, minorities and women were less likely to advance to managerial positions, a reduction for hiring women went from 52 percent to 13 percent, construction awards to businesses owned by minorities and women decreased from 50 percent to 32 percent, and admission of women and minorities to elite and grad schools dropped.”
The league further claimed that if the measure is passed, “court challenges would cost Oklahoma taxpayer dollars in lawyers and court fees.”
“Quotas have been illegal in Oklahoma for decades, so if that’s what voters are concerned about, then they should rest assured that that law is long settled in the Sooner state,” Kiesel said. “For Oklahoma as a state, affirmative action means ... a commitment to identifying areas where we lack diversity and then recognizing that diversity is a strength.”
As one of the bill’s champions, Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher, believes the measure would ban programs that give preferential treatment to any person on the basis of race, sex, color or national origin.
“I have always believed we should be evaluated by our character and merit, not by the color of our skin,” Johnson said in a press release after the measure’s approval by the legislature.
Kiesel disagrees with that characterization and believes appropriating anti-discrimination language as a means of promoting the passage of this state question is misleading.
“I think that this could have far-reaching consequences for both racial minorities as well as women, Kiesel said.
The president of NAACP in Oklahoma, Garland Pruitt, believes the bill could have a negative impact on multiple groups.
“Any time you remove something that is already in place, the chances are great that opportunities will be diminished or eliminated. It was put into place for a purpose,” Pruitt said. “It was needed then; it is needed now. Affirmative action should be in place, and it is necessary. We haven’t arrived.”