Oklahoma Affirmative Action Ban Amendment, State Question 759 (2012)

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State Question 759
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Section 36, Article 2
Referred by:Oklahoma State Legislature
Topic:Affirmative action
The Oklahoma Affirmative Action Ban Amendment, also known as State Question 759, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Oklahoma as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure banned affirmative action programs in the state, and prohibited special treatment based on race or sex in public employment, education and contracts. It was introduced by State Senator Rob Johnson and State Representative Leslie Osborn. Co-sponsors of the measure included John Trebilcock, Mike Jackson and David Derby. More sponsors can be found here.[1]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are official election results

Oklahoma State Question 759
Approveda Yes 745,854 59.2%

These results are from the Oklahoma State Elections Board.

Text of the measure

Ballot language

The ballot language of the measure read as follows:[2]

This measure adds a new section to the State Constitution. It adds Section 36 to Article II.

The measure deals with three areas of government action. These areas are employment, education and contracting.

In these areas, the measure does not allow affirmative action programs. Affirmative action programs give preferred treatment based on race, color or gender. They also give preferred treatment based on ethnicity or national origin. Discrimination on these bases is also not permitted.

The measure permits affirmative action in three instances. 1. When gender is a bonafide qualification, it is allowed. 2. Existing court orders and consent decrees that require preferred treatment will continue and can be followed. 3. Affirmative action is allowed when needed to keep or obtain federal funds.

The measure applies to the State and its agencies. It applies to counties, cities and towns. It applies to school districts. It applies to other State subdivisions.

The measure applies only to actions taken after its approval by the people.

Shall the proposal be approved?[3]



  • State Senator Rob Johnson, who introduced the proposal, stated, "I think we should judge people purely on their qualifications. I think at one point in time there was a need for affirmative action programs, especially right after the civil rights movement, but I think the time has come now where they’re doing more damage than they are good.”[4]
  • State Representative Leslie Osborn claimed, “This proposed constitutional amendment makes clear that all men are created equal and should be treated as such by their government. If voters approve this constitutional amendment, state government will not be allowed to discriminate against Oklahoma citizens based on race or gender – period.”[5]



  • State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre was against the measure, claiming, "This should not be what brings people to the polls: these kinds of issues that further divide us."[4]
  • Senate Democratic leader Andrew Rice said, "It’s just more of a political game. And it will be on the 2012 ballot with an African-American president that is very unpopular in Oklahoma.”[4]


  • State Representative Jabar Shumate used the argument that the measure was being used as a tool to rouse residents, claiming, "If there’s no problem and you’re looking for a solution, there has to be a conclusion that there’s an effort to stir up the fears of people."[4]
  • State Representative Larry Glenn argued, "We are a recipient state in Oklahoma - we receive more federal dollars and contracts than we send to Washington. Since they do require affirmative action on some contracts and jobs this may take us off the list on some federal spending for projects."

Path to the ballot

The Oklahoma State Legislature can approve a proposed amendment by a majority vote. However, if the state legislature wants the proposed amendment to be placed on a special election ballot, it has to approve the amendment by a 2/3rds vote.

On March 8, 2011, the measure was approved by the Oklahoma State Senate with a vote of 31-15. It was then sent to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where a similar vote took place, with the end result being 59-14 in favor. The proposal was then signed and approved on April 27, 2011 for ballot access.[6]



The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
Approval Mar. 8, 2011 Senate approved measure, 31 to 15. House approved shortly after.
Signature Apr. 27, 2011 Proposal was signed and approved for ballot access.

See also

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