Way back in 1998, voters in the State of Washington approved Initiative 200 by a margin 58 to 42 percent. Initiative 200 was a clone of California’s Proposition 209. It prohibited the state from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
However, as Gail Heriot points out at Instapundit, unlike Proposition 209, Initiative 200 is just a statute, not a constitutional amendment. Accordingly, supporters of race-based preferences have been out to overturn it legislatively for the past 20 years.
They finally succeeded when the state legislature, on a party-line vote, adopted Initiative 1000. It purports merely to amend Initiative 200. In reality, however, the new Initiative guts the old one — the one that Washingtonians voted for.
Fortunately, a small group called Washington Asians for Equality is fighting back. It succeeded in forcing a referendum on Initiative 200, which will appear on the ballot this November as Referendum 88.
By voting NO on Referendum 88, voters can restore the prohibition on race-based preferences that they enacted through Initiative 200 all those years ago. I urge our Washington State readers to vote NO.
I should also note that, as one might expect, Washington Asians for Equality is being massively outspent in this campaign. Gail informs me that a foundation somehow related to Kaiser Permanente has given $500,000 to the opposition. The SEIU, a radical left-wing union, also backs the effort to gut Initiative 200.
Proponents of anti-discrimination ballot measures are used to being outspent. However, Washington Asians for Equality needs more money than it has raised so far to fight this battle, particularly given that the ballot language and the language in the statute are less than straightforward. Supporters need to be informed that NO is the way to vote.
If you wish to support Washington Asians for Equality in its fight for non-discrimination, or just to learn more about the Referendum 88, you can do so here.