Difference between revisions of "Oklahoma State Question No. 737 (2008)"

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The Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative would prohibit the state of Oklahoma from discrimining or giving preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting. This measure is proposed as an citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution.

The proposed ballot wording is:

The state shall not discriminate against or grant 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 or public contracting.


The measures is being sponsored by Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative. It is also being supported as part of a national effort by the American Civil Rights Initiative, a group founded and chaired by Ward Connerly. Connerly rose to prominence when he spearheaded a similar effort in California in 1996, Proposition 209.

Similar measures are being sponsored by the American Civil Rights Initiative in several other states for the 2008 ballot, including Colorado, Missouri, Arizona and Nebraska. The combined effort is known as Super Tuesday for Equal Rights.


In early October, an organized petition blocking campaign to prevent circulators from successfully collecting signatures was initiated.[1] The "Decline to Sign Coalition" is led by Oklahoma City representative Mike Shelton. Shelton has also proposed legislation in the Oklahoma legislature that would make it illegal to pay circulators on a per-signature basis.[2]

Proponents of the ballot measure argue that the "Decline to Sign" movement is similar to the ultimately unsuccessful efforts in Michigan in 2006 to prevent the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative from reaching the ballot.[3]

Petition blocking and harassment campaign

On November 14, an incident of an individual working the prevent the collection of signatures on the Oklahoma Civil Rights initiative was captured and posted on YouTube.[4]

Lawsuit challenges petition validity

Ten Oklahoma voters, including State Reps. Mike Shelton of Oklahoma City and Jabbar Shumate of Tulsa, filed a lawsuit in early March 2008 with the state Supreme Court challenging the validity the petition.

They argue the petition is an attempt to trick voters into ending equal opportunity programs. Chuck Norton, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma, charges that the signature-gathering process was riddled with errors.[5]


On December 10, 2007, the Oklahoma effort became the first of the Super Tuesday for Equal Rights efforts to turn in signatures. The Secretary State has not yet verified that the signatures are sufficient to qualify for the ballot.[6][7]

Initiative organizers had 90 days from September 10, 2007, to gather 138,970 valid signatures to qualify for the 2008 ballot.[8]

Similar initiatives in other states

See also:

News coverage

Opinion commentary

External Links


  1. Group urges voters not to sign what they call misleading petition
  2. politicos trying to kill the Oklahoma ballot initiative process?
  3. Decline to Sign: Same Playbook
  4. YouTube video of Opposition member harassing and intimidating a Civil Rights Initiative circulator
  5. KTEN-TV: "Supreme Court suit hits petition," March 7, 2008
  6. How long will it be before they go to jail, Drew?
  7. Affirmative action foes file, Tulsa World, Dec. 11, 2007
  8. Oklahoma Insider: "Signature gathering underway for civil rights initiative," Oct. 10, 2007