Colorado Equal Opportunity Initiative (2008)

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The Colorado Equal Opportunity Initiative was proposed in reaction to the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, also vying for a place on the November 2008 ballot. This measure was an citizen-initiated constitutional amendment.

The initiative began with the same language as the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, but followed with language stating that the initiative preserves the state's authority to take actions regarding public employment, public education, and public contracting as long as they don't violate the U.S. Constitution. Since the added language seems to nullify the opening language, it is possible that this initiative would have had no effect if passed, since the actions it would prohibit would have been already ruled unconstitutional. At the Title Board hearing, the proponents' spokesperson was unwilling to give any examples of what the first clause of the proposal would achieve, given the following clause.[1]

The ballot title was originally approved by the Title Board, then rejected on rehearing. However, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Title Board and reinstated the title. It read:

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a prohibition against discrimination by the state, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting 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, and public contracting; preserving the state's authority to take actions regarding public employment, public education, and public contracting that are consistent with the United States constitution as interpreted by the United States supreme court; and defining "state" to include, without limitation, the state of Colorado, any agency or department of the state, any public institution of higher education, any political subdivision, or any governmental instrumentality of or within the state.


Supporters believed this measure, unlike the Civil Rights Initiative also being proposed, would have protected the progress Colorado has made toward providing equal opportunity to people of color. They said their proposal would eliminate discrimination while protecting modest programs that continue to secure equality of opportunity.[2]


Opponents saw the initiative as a deceptive effort to interfere with the Civil Rights Initiative by confusing the voters.

Jessica Peck Corry, a policy analyst with the Colorado-based Independence Institute, announced in late February 2008 that "I'm part of a citizen-led coalition dedicated to actively fighting this ill-conceived effort."[3][4] Her philosophical objection to the measure:

I'm speaking out against Initiative 61 because, as a mother or two, I see firsthand my obligation to do everything possible to ensure that when my daughters apply for college, a government contract, or a job, they aren't treated as inferior candidates simply because of their chromosome make up. They will be taught the truth — that their gender should never be used as an excuse for failure.

Corry also believed that Initiative 61 violates Colorado's single-subject rule.


The initiative ballot title was challenged and on March 5, 2008, the Colorado Title Setting Review board rejected the proposed ballot title in a 3-0 decision, saying that the title violated the single-subject rule and was likely to confuse voters, particularly regarding how it compares to Initiative 31, the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative .[5]

This decision of the Title Board was appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court, which overruled the Title Board and reinstated the title on May 16, 2008.[6]

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