Approve R-88 — Opportunities For All coalition vows to bring Washingtonians together in support of I-1000, fairness, inclusion

With Wednesday’s announcement from the Secretary of State that Referendum 88 has been certified to appear on November’s general election ballot, Approve R-88 — Opportunities For All, a coalition of business, labor and community organizations that support Initiative 1000, vows to bring Washingtonians together in support of I-1000 and “ensure fairness and opportunity for all our citizens.”

This past year, the people of Washington state came together to support I-1000, gathering a record number of signatures (nearly 400,000) to petition the State Legislature to end Washington’s ban on affirmative action programs that provide equal opportunity in education, employment and contracting. I-1000 set out to ensure fair opportunities for women, veterans, people with disabilities, and all people of color. And in April, the Legislature voted to approve I-1000. Now voters will be asked to affirm I-1000 by approving Ref. 88 in November.

Approve R-88 — Opportunities For All is building a strong, robust, and diverse campaign to bring Washingtonians together around the values of inclusion, equity, and opportunity. Led by representatives of Washington’s business community and labor movement, it includes grassroots community partners and distinguished elected officials like Approve 88’s honorary chairs, former Governors Dan Evans, Gary Locke and Christine Gregoire.

“I believe I-1000 celebrates our state’s diversity and is the right action to ensure fairness and opportunity for all our citizens,” Locke said. “Contrary to some beliefs, I-1000 does not repeal prohibitions on quotas, set-asides, or preferences. I-1000 merely makes it clear that recruitment and outreach are permissible and provides opportunities for veterans, women, and minorities for consideration by universities and colleges for admission and for contracting with governments.”

Washington State Labor Council President Larry Brown and Secretary-Treasurer April Sims (joint statement): “We can’t have shared success without shared opportunity. When certain people in our community are denied chances to succeed in our schools and workplaces because of who they are, those lost opportunities and wages hold us all back. We need to say ‘no’ to discrimination and demand better wages and jobs for everyone. We need to support I-1000 by approving Ref. 88 so that everyone in our state has better wages, jobs, and affordable, quality higher education.”

Marilyn Strickland, President & CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce: “Approving Referendum 88 means expanding economic opportunity for qualified people and small businesses. It’s not a zero-sum game—it’s about growing the pie. We must affirm I-1000 because everybody should have the opportunity to be part of our prosperous economy – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, veteran status or disability.”

Irene Plenefisch, Government Affairs Director, Microsoft: “Our workplaces and our communities are strongest when they include the most diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. We support I-1000 because it helps create an inclusive society, ensuring that everyone has full and fair access to opportunity.”

Barb Wilson, Director of Government Affairs, Vulcan Inc.: “Vulcan Inc. stands behind Initiative 1000’s commitment to inclusion. We believe in equal opportunity, without preferential treatment, for people of color, women, veterans, and people with disabilities. We’re proud to support a more equitable Washington.”

Sadiqa Sakin, President of the Seattle King County NAACP: “We need to approve Referendum 88 to preserve the people’s victory on Initiative 1000. This is about extending fair opportunities to a quality education and employment to everyone. We must uphold our state’s basic values by eliminating discrimination and ensuring fairness for all.”

Michele Storms, Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington: “Ending discrimination has been central to the ACLU’s mission since our inception almost a century ago. The state’s economy and its communities benefit when all members of society have access to employment and education opportunities without discrimination. We are proud to support I-1000 and are confident voters will uphold Washington’s values of fairness and equity this November.”

Approve R-88 coalition responds to submission of signatures for R-88

Today, in response to the submission of signatures by a group seeking to overturn Initiative 1000 (the legislatively-approved Washington State Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act) supporters of I-1000 announced the formation of the Approve R-88 coalition, which will bring Washingtonians together in defense of I-1000 from now through General Election Day in November of 2019.

Enacted on April 28th, 2019 by the Washington State House and the Washington State Senate, I-1000 amended Initiative 200 (adopted in 1998) to expand the prohibition on extending preferential treatment to include discrimination on the basis of age, sexual orientation, disability, or military service (whether as an active duty servicemember or as an honorably discharged veteran) while explicitly permitting the state to remedy discrimination against — or underrepresentation of — disadvantaged groups as documented in a valid disparity study or proven in a court of law.

The measure would also create the Governor’s Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Under I-1000, state agencies and institutions of higher education are allowed to create programs and initiatives to ensure that everyone has access to opportunities to improve their lives in the State of Washington.

The Washington State Constitution permits legislatively adopted initiatives like I-1000 to be subjected to a referendum. Should Referendum 88 qualify, as expected, I-1000’s fate will be decided by voters this autumn in a statewide vote. Voters will have the option of keeping I-1000 in place by voting Approve, or repeal it by voting Reject.

Approve R-88 will build a strong, robust, and diverse campaign to bring Washingtonians together around the values of inclusion, equity, and opportunity, led by representatives of Washington’s business community and labor movement, with grassroots community partners and distinguished elected officials like former Governor Gary Locke and State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos.

“I believe I-1000 celebrates our state’s diversity and is the right action to ensure fairness and opportunity for all our citizens,” said Locke, who served as Washington’s chief executive from January of 1997 until January 2005 and later as the United States of America’s Secretary of Commerce and Ambassador to China. Locke worked closely with fellow former Governors Dan Evans and Chris Gregoire to champion I-1000 as an initiative to the Legislature.

“Contrary to some beliefs, I-1000 does not repeal I-200’s prohibitions on quotas, set-asides, or preferences,” Locke explained. “I-1000 merely makes it clear that recruitment and outreach are permissible and provides opportunities for veterans, women, and minorities for consideration by universities and colleges for admission and for contracting with governments.”

“I am proud to live, work, and represent a state where people care passionately about extending fair opportunities for educational advancement and employment to everyone,” said Santos.

“While signatures gathered for the referendum may have been submitted today, the measure is not yet certified by the Secretary of State. If the measure qualifies, I am confident that our citizens will uphold our long-standing commitment to eliminate discrimination and to ensure fairness for all.”

Businesses, labor unions, civic organizations, and activists are all invited to join the effort to uphold I-1000 by Approving R-88, should it qualify.

“We can’t have shared success without shared opportunity,” said Washington State Labor Council President Larry Brown and Secretary-Treasurer April Sims.

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, supported I-1000 and worked to ensure its successful passage during the legislative session.

“When certain people in our community are denied chances to succeed in our schools and workplaces because of who they are, those lost opportunities and wages hold us all back,” Brown and Sims said. “We need to say no to discrimination and demand better wages and jobs for everyone. We need to support I-1000 so that everyone in our state has better wages, jobs, and affordable, quality higher education.”

“Inclusion is one of Washington’s most important values,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “By upholding I-1000, we can improve lives and better communities across our great state. Repealing I-1000 would take us backwards, and that’s not the Washington way. Let’s move forward this autumn by Approving Referendum 88.” 

Voters will have until Tuesday, November 5th at 8 PM to return ballots for the 2019 general election.

Ballots will be mailed to military and overseas voters on September 21st, while ballots for voters in Washington State will be mailed the week of Friday, October 18th, when the eighteen day voting period begins. Citizens who are not on the rolls may register to vote in person for the general election at any time between now and the deadline to return ballots thanks to Washington’s new same day voter registration law.

The Approve R-88 coalition invites all Washingtonians to join in the effort to protect Washington’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Act by visiting approve88.org.