Michigan voters approved a state-wide ban on affirmative action in public education, public employment, and state contracts on Tuesday. The referendum was opposed by many prominent leaders in the political, business, and academic worlds, including both major gubernatorial candidates, Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) – who was reelected on Tuesday – and Dick DeVos (R). Detroit and the surrounding metro area also showed strong opposition to the referendum, as evidenced by the ubiquitous "No on 2" signs. Roughly 58 percent of voters across the state, however, came out in favor of the ban. Proposition Two garnered the most support from men and white voters, with 60 percent and 59 percent voting to approve it, respectively. Only 47 percent of women and 14 percent of black voters cast a "yes" ballot for the proposition, according to exit polls, Inside Higher Ed reports.
The ban has been controversial from the beginning. Ward Connerly, an African-American businessman, pushed through a similar ban on affirmative action in California during the 1996 election. He created an anti-affirmative action organization with the same name as the bill on Michigan’s ballot – the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative – with Jennifer Gratz. Gratz filed suit against the University of Michigan Law School in 2003 when she was reportedly denied admission.
In order to put Proposition Two on the ballot, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) paid workers two dollars for every signature they obtained. According to Kate Nielson, a campus organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation who spent much of the past two months working in the field, the MCRI used other deceptive means to get the referendum on the ballot. One black, female Wayne State University student working for the MCRI to collect signatures was told that the referendum was to cut taxes.
The consequences of the approval of Proposition Two will be far reaching in Michigan and beyond. Changes are set to start as early as December 22, but legal challenges are expected. The passage of Proposition Two will not only affect Michigan citizens; with his success in Michigan, Connerly is expected to take the same ban to other states. Ohio is the next suspected target. Opponents of these bans plan to mobilize their base early in an attempt to keep similar referenda off of future ballots.
Media Resources: Detroit Free Press 11/9/06; Insider Higher Ed release 11/8/06
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .