Monday, December 15, 2008

Defeating Giants On The Ballot

Denver Urban Spectrum
By: Carlos Valverde, Jr.

Ward Connerly, the anti-affirmative action millionaire from California, steamrolled into Colorado like a heavyweight champion. Like Clubber Lane from the movie Rocky III, Connerly and his Amendment 46 seemed unstoppable with prior statewide ballot victories in California, Washington, and Michigan. The undefeated champion was the odds-on favorite in Colorado, boasting tremendous financial resources and deceptive ballot language that gave him a huge 18 point lead in the early polls.
Connerly usurped language from the 1964 Civil Rights Act to create this backdoor attack on equal opportunity initiatives. This measure looked to undermine the very principles of the Civil Rights Act and the movement that spawned it. It would have eliminated programs like the Colorado Pay Equity Commission that works to reduce the pay gap between men and women, numerous college scholarship for minorities, and government contracting opportunities for both women and minorities.
Connerly teamed up with the Independence Institute, the rough-n-tough mouthpiece for the right-wing conservative movement in Colorado. The team seemed invincible like Clubber Lane. Who would take them on, who would fight for civil rights? Colorado has some heavy hitters too, but many seemed to be engaged in other ballot fights, and others seemed to be afraid of losing to these giants.
Then, like Rocky Balboa coming out of retirement, the local, longtime protectors of equal opportunity came together to take on the challenge. Now, these weren’t the usual big names of civil rights in Colorado. These were the small grassroots organizations and community members that make up Colorado Unity.
The Colorado Unity coalition formed in 1996 to educate Coloradans about the importance of a diverse society and equal opportunity for all in our great state. The coalition, lead by 9to5 National Organization of Working Women and the Colorado Progressive Coalition, laced up their gloves to take on the giants.

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