Arguments For and Against Amendment 46

Elizabeth Woods

Amendment 46 is one of the more controversial Amendments on the Colorado ballot this year. It acts to “prohibit discrimination based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in employment, public education, or public contracting.” This amendment sounds like a civil rights movement, prohibiting discrimination of any person in the hiring process, but many argue that it would further discrimination. Those against amendment 46 argue that minorities and women would suffer. As of recent polls, amendment 46 seems to be supported by Coloradans. In fact, one poll shows that more democrats support the amendment than republicans, but it is argued that this is because of the language used to describe the amendment. A lot of supporters think that for the most part we are past discrimination, and that a person should be hired based on their qualifications. Is this true? Are we at a place where we can abolish affirmative action programs, and still reach equality?

One could argue that we have made many milestones for equality among minorities and women. Take for instance Obama who is about to become president of the United States, and Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin who ran in this election. Supporters also argue that giving people preferential treatment based on their gender, race, ethnicity, color or national origin discriminates against people who are qualified. They argue that qualifications should be the deciding factor for job hiring or getting accepted into a university. In recent reporting’s, females have outnumbered men in undergraduate and graduate programs. Women are also increasingly graduating at higher rates than men, and causing some colleges to consider establishing affirmative action programs for men. If we once created these programs for women, and are now considering them for men, it would appear we are moving in circles.

Still, arguments against amendment 46 are that women and minorities are still discriminated against and need these programs to reach equality. Findings are that although minorities have made progress in the strife for equality they are still enrolling in college at lower rates than their white peers, suggesting that we may not be ready to get rid of affirmative action programs. People against this amendment cite that California and Washington who have both passed amendments like 46, have seen a decrease of minorities and women enrolling in college, and a decrease in business opportunities. Furthermore, they argue that this would decrease diversity that so many value in college communities, and would put outreach programs and summer and after school programs at risk.

So are we still a long way from equality? Does the support of this amendment further discrimination? Although we have made a lot of progress, there is obviously still more to be made, and unfortunately discrimination will probably always be an issue. One things for sure, arguments on both sides are both about achieving one thing: equality



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3 responses to “Arguments For and Against Amendment 46

  1. Tony Robinson

    Thanks Elizabeth. I find the Democrat versus Republican poll on this issue the most interesting. Yes, maybe it’s the way the worded–that’s surely some of it–but since its inception Aff Action has been very unpopular among both the Republican and the Democratic grass roots, so its not overly surprising to see a bunch of Dems line up against it.

    The theoretical concept of affirmative action seems very reasonable to me–university departments, police departments, etc. should be able to talk about race as one factor among many that they weight in creating a police force, a faculty, a student body that represents social needs at large. These programs should be able to conduct affirmative outreach to try to diversity their application pool, should be able to evaluate their racial and gender diversity and think about whether it well serves their community or not. We know that race and gender matters in life, so bringing that realization into our broad discussions about the future of a school, company or police force makes sense to me–NOT as quotas but as an allowable issue to discuss and (in certain cases) to seek to rectify through affirmative outreach, etc.

    But like many, I become frustrated when this broad principle sometimes turns into something approaching a “quota”–when identity reasoning replaces moral reasoning in judging someone’s worth or what they have to offer. And I know that it happens.

    Also, I know that the populace is strongly united against affirmative action programs in most cases and almost always vote it down when they have a chance–and that has to count for something if you really belive in democracy. Maybe there’s a better way? class-based aff action?

    Oh, and as you post links, take care that you paste the link in such a way that it actually works. None of the links in this post work, largely because you paste it in such a way that the http: segment of the URL is duplicated. Here’s a sample address from your links. Notice the “http://” twice at the beginning of your address–that messes up the link. If I cut out one of the https, the address works….


  2. Diego Del Campo

    I think we are still a long way from equality–but we’re getting there, and that’s the important part. Unfortunately, 46 threatens those opportunities that are helping minorities overcome barriers of discrimination.
    I like how you talk about the presidential election is over.

  3. ilasiea

    You know…I kind of agree that on both sides, there is the argument of reaching equality. However, yes discrimination is still very much so alive. Even though women and minorities have progressed. there is still room for more. Getting rid of programs that help this movement forward only hinder actually moving forward. As you stated, states that approved Amendments like 46 have had fewer minorities and women enrolling. I am really torn on this issue. As much as I wish we didn’t, we need programs like affirmative action because discrimination does still exist in a big way. Even one of the anti-McCain ads was saying how he didn’t believe women should get equal pay for equal work…I’m surprised that he even picked Sarah Palin as his VP pick.

    As for your going in circles comment, I almost think that if that’s what it takes then fine. If that’s what it’s going to take to to consistently have diversity then why not? I mean I think it’s sad that we as a country can’t reach that point on our own, without special programs, but if that’s what we need, then we shouldn’t get rid off them.

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