Initiative 1000, which will appear on your November ballot under the heading Referendum 88, can be summed up in a single sentence: It would abolish the principle of equality for all, regardless of race, as required by existing law, and replace it with a system that uses different rules for people of different races.

If you’re a student applying to a state college or university, your race would now be a factor in whether you get in.

Your race would also matter if you wanted a job with local or state government. Or if your business wanted to do contract work with the government.

Pro: Approve Referendum 88 for fairness and opportunity for all

At a time when society is so divided and polarized already, why on earth would we raise racial tensions by allowing the government to discriminate against someone based on race? Defenders of this policy say that Referendum 88/I-1000 will promote diversity. There are several ways to do that, including mentoring programs and expanding the search for talent. But attaining diversity through discrimination divides people along racial lines. How could it not? People who apply for a job or an education should not be judged as representatives of racial groups, they should be judged as individual Americans.

That’s just the first drawback to I-1000, which was passed by the Legislature in April. The initiative also would create a government agency to enforce the use of race in all aspects of government employment, college admissions and public contracting. The new agency would be overseen by an unelected board with sweeping authority to make decisions on preferences in academic admissions and government hiring.

Does Washington state need another huge, expensive government bureaucracy stacked with political appointees?


And it gets worse. If you’ve seen their ads or campaign literature, you may have noticed that I-1000 supporters claim that it expands opportunities for veterans. No, it does not. It actually abolishes Washington’s preference for veterans in public employment dating back to the late 1800s. Then it redefines a veteran’s status with the status of race and gender. Just like that, a preference that was earned for serving your country becomes legally equated with a preference for what you look like. I-1000 supporters knew that voters would recoil against awarding preferences based on race, so they stripped veterans of their earned status and blended it with the categories of race and gender.

If I-1000 supporters really supported our vets, they would simply leave the current — and very popular — veterans’ preference alone. A “no” vote on I-1000 protects the veterans preference, and keeps it in place.

Referendum 88/I-1000 supporters also claim that their measure actually forbids racial preferences. How does a ballot measure written to allow someone’s race to be a factor in college admissions and government hiring claim that it doesn’t actually do that?

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Simple. The initiative’s text changes the definition of preferential treatment. Treating an applicant favorably over others is no longer a preference. Under I-1000’s Orwellian interpretation, preferential treatment only takes place when race becomes “the sole qualifying factor to select a lesser qualified candidate for a more qualified candidate …” “Sole factor”? Any lawyer can tell you that’s a virtually impossible standard to meet, which of course is I-1000’s intent.

By rejecting Referendum 88/I-1000, you can reaffirm our state’s belief that civil rights should be simple, clear and apply to everyone, regardless of what they look like. You also would prevent the creation of a huge new government bureaucracy and halt this cynical attack on our veterans. Seldom has a “no” vote been so richly deserved.