Opponents clash over whether Referendum 88 requires quotas

After two decades fighting to repeal Washington's ban on affirmative action, civil rights activists saw Initiative 1000 passed by the legislature this year.

The legislation allows the state to use affirmative action and that affirmative action does not mean any sort of quota system.

But opponents argue that I-1000, now Referendum 88 on the November ballot, hurts Asians -- by establishing quotas.

"They have to set, count numbers, set goals, implement hiring, to meet those goals by deadline enforced by an agency. Our courts have ruled that constitutes quotas," said attorney Yvonne Kinoshita Ward.

Though the law says it restores affirmative action without the use of quotas, opponents submitted a voters' pamphlet statement that says the text of the law adds up to quotas despite the explicit ban on them.

I-1000 sponsor Larry Dugger went to court to stop the pamphlet from going to voters, but a judge declined to issue an injunction.

"If you read I-1000, I-1000 states three times, no quotas," Dugger said.

Scroll down to continue reading

More news from KIRO 7


Dugger is the Washington state commander for the National Association of Black Veterans.

He rejects opponents' claim that the measure hurts veterans.

Veterans rights' attorney Thomas Jarrard said, "I was appalled because two things, number one they said it helped veterans but it really doesn't. More importantly it eliminates veterans' preference that we have in state law."

Dugger responds, "It doesn't eliminate any veteran of any class, all honorably discharged veterans."

I-1000 is seen as either healing or worsening society's racial divide.

"It's time for us to change, it's time for us to be better," Dugger says.

But opponent Jessica Xie says: "My children with I-1000 will be judged forever by their skin color or race. Which we cannot change with our effort. That's very sad."