KANSAS CITY, MO – A new coalition of labor, business and civil rights groups kicked off a campaign last night against a proposed ballot measure banning many affirmative action programs in Missouri. Three states have passed similar amendments, and a group called the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative will soon begin collecting signatures to put the issue on the November ballot.
As it stands, the proposed constitutional amendment states that it would prohibit state and local governments from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment, to people on the basis of race and sex in hiring, university admissions and contracts. The measure would maintain affirmative action programs that are based on socio-economic status. But Kansas City Chamber of Commerce President Peter Levi says those collecting signatures are giving out the wrong idea.
"The way it's being cast I think they're very much misrepresenting what affirmative action has been able to be able to accomplish for both women and minority groups in the states of Missouri," Levi said.
Levi says the amendment would have a negative impact on Missouri businesses and universities. Proponents of the amendment say that race and gender-based hiring and admissions programs end up perpetuating discrimination instead of eliminating it.