The California legislature voted last week to strike anti-discrimination language from the State Constitution.
In a 30-10 vote, the legislature passed the Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (ACA 5), which removes the words “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,” from California’s constitution, which were put in place in 1996 with Proposition 209.
Proposition 209 effectively repealed the state’s Affirmative Action policies, which allowed public institutions such as schools and universities to give preferential treatment to underrepresented groups even if they were less than qualified. As Harvard University has shown, such policies lead to discrimination against Asian Americans especially.
The California proposal, which will be given to the people of the Golden State as a new resolution to vote on later this year, aims to bring back Affirmative Action to increase representation of women and people of color in “public employment, as well as public contracting and education.”
The bills makes numerous claims that Proposition 209 led to decreases in public contracts for minority- and women-owned businesses. The bill, however, includes a section claiming women “face unequal pay for equal work,” a statement that has been debunked numerous times by numerous economists and studies.
“White women are paid 80 cents to every dollar paid to white men doing the same work. Black women are paid 60 cents for every dollar paid to white men doing the same work and would theoretically have to work an extra seven months every year to overcome that differential. This persistent gender wage gap continues to harm women, their families, and communities,” ACA 5 claims.
As numerous studies have shown, the gender “wage” gap is actually an “earnings” gap. There is no evidence men and women working the exact same jobs earn different pay. The gap is due almost entirely to choices men and women make in their careers, such as how many hours they work, what type of jobs they take within the same industry or field, and whether they take time off from work to raise children. When controlling for these and other factors not relating to discrimination, the gap shrinks to about 6 cents. Lisa Maatz, a spokeswoman for the American Association of University Women once admitted they hadn’t figured out how much of the alleged gender wage gap was due to discrimination.
The California bill assumes all inequalities are the result of discrimination and, more likely, Proposition 209, without considering that, like the gender “wage” gap, at least some of the disproportionality may be due to women and people of color choosing to do other things than work in the public sector – whether that’s a good or bad thing.
Removing the language would also allow California to blatantly discriminate against certain races and colors while purporting to champion equality.
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