Jessica Peck Corry: Guest Opinion |

Jessica Peck Corry: Guest Opinion

Jessica Peck Corry
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

As voters begin receiving ballots by mail, they are being asked to support the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative. If passed, this proposed state constitutional amendment would ” once and for all ” prohibit our government from discriminating on the basis of race or gender in public education, public contracting, and public hiring.

Every day in Colorado, our government preaches to women and minorities that we are intellectually inferior second-class citizens. We’re told that because of our biology, we need special preferences to succeed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Disadvantage and discrimination transcend race and gender lines in today’s America.

Sadly, more than four decades after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Colorado’s colleges and government agencies still use race and gender every day as factors in deciding who to admit or who to hire. Should Amendment 46 pass, not a single valuable outreach program would be eliminated ” only race or gender restrictions would be abolished. In the 21st Century, this approach makes sense.

Over the last four decades, America has seen a 20-fold increase in the number of interracial marriages. Even Barack Obama, born to a black father and a white mother, has a sister who is a different race. She and Barack have the same mother, but she has an Asian father. Under many preference schemes, he would qualify for assistance as an “underrepresented minority”; she, meanwhile, would not. According to the U.S. Census, whites will be in the minority within a generation and by 2042, more than 16 million Americans will self-identify as multiracial.

Gender preferences are similarly out of place in 2008. Today, females account for 56 percent of all undergraduate and graduate students in Colorado. They also represent 47 percent of all law students and 48 percent of all medical students.

In the three other states where initiatives similar to ours have been put before voters, including California, Washington, and Michigan, they have been met by overwhelming voter support. National independent polls show that well over 60 percent of Colorado voters who have made up their minds on our initiative, including Republicans and Democrats, support our initiative language.

A hard look at the numbers shows that since California voters approved Proposition 209 in 1996, minority enrollment has grown at seven of nice UC campuses. Women now account for well over half the UC student population. Dropout rates are down, and of equal importance, women and minorities are no longer haunted by the assumption that they needed special preferences to succeed.

Our opposition has tirelessly fought our efforts. They’ve tied us up in frivolous litigation and have launched vicious false accusations at press conferences. They unsuccessfully begged the Supreme Court to reject our language. And while they continue to falsely accuse us of “deceit,” three courts have struck down their accusations.

While an Aspen Times editorial (“Don’t set serious precedents,” Oct. 10) wrongly claimed earlier this month that our initiative would raise taxes, the assertion was a technical error as the editorial staff was actually referring to another initiative. In fact, our initiative could save our state money. An independent University of California study shows that when race and gender preferences are eliminated in public contracting, taxpayers save between 3 and 5 percent annually.

Amendment 46 insists that our government treat us all fairly, regardless of our race or gender. In the continued fight for equal rights, such a progressive commitment is long overdue.

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