The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
In the Wake of Proposal 2???s Passage, Affirmative Action Supporters Look to the Future
Feature Story by Daniel Gutman and Tyler Lewis - 12/21/2006
With the passage of Proposal 2, Michigan becomes the third state after California and Washington to ban via ballot initiative affirmative action and equal opportunity initiatives in state contracting, education, and employment.
Although frequent polling research conducted for two years-- including on Election Day-- reflected the state evenly divided on the issue, the proposal passed with 58 percent of the electorate supporting the measure.
“Michigan taught us some valuable lessons,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. “We are going to redouble our efforts and be more proactive going forward. We must develop a strategy that guarantees states have flexibility they need to ensure equal opportunity.”
Observers of the November 7 election suggest that the important message of affirmative action’s benefits for minorities and women didn’t penetrate to the average voter, despite the impressive campaign, which united the Michigan establishment. One United Michigan (OUM), a coalition of more than 200 mainstream Michigan organizations representing women's groups, educators, business groups, racial and ethnic minority groups, and labor, also obtained the bipartisan public support of every major political leader in the state including Governor Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D. Mich., and their challengers.
Despite potential flaws in polling, it appears that whites voted for passage of Proposal 2 and non-whites voted against it. A CNN exit poll revealed that 70 percent of white men and 59 percent of white women voted for the proposal, while 70 percent of non-white men and 82 percent of non-white women voted against it.
Observers said that this phenomenon could be a reflection of both groups’ narrow views on the definition of affirmative action, as well as whether sexism and racism exists at the same level today as when the policy was first put into effect in the 1960s.
In the aftermath of the vote, action on this issue continues both in the state and on the national level. As directed by the Governor, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission is conducting a review of the existing public programs in the state that could be affected by Proposal 2.
In addition, civil rights lawyers are also examining the potential reach of Proposal 2. The ACLU of Michigan and NAACP’s Detroit Branch filed a lawsuit on December 19, asking a federal court to declare that passage of Proposal 2 has not changed the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the use of race and gender as one of many factors in admissions.
Universities in the state are also determining their course of action. On December 11, the presidents of University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University asked a federal judge to delay implementation of Proposal 2 until after admissions is completed in spring 2007. The universities argue that Proposal 2’s implementation in the midst of an application cycle would force admissions officers to use two different criteria for the same class. Proposal 2 goes into effect on December 22.
It has been reported that Ward Connerly and opponents of affirmative action are planning to take their initiatives to other states. On December 13, Ward Connerly announced that he was looking at putting a ballot initiative like Proposal 2 on the slate in nine states – Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.