The bill, Senate Joint Resolution 15 by Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher, and Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle, would prohibit special treatment based on race or gender in public employment, education or contracts.
The measure passed the Senate 31-15 on March 8, and is currently in the House for consideration.
According to The Associated Press, supporters of the measure said it would ensure that all state applicants are treated equally.
“I think we should judge people purely on their qualifications,” Johnson told the AP. “I think at one point in time there was a need for affirmative action programs, especially right after the civil rights movement, but I think the time has come now where they’re doing more damage than they are good.”
If passed, the resolution would abolish some state scholarships for minority students. As far as the other provisions of the measure, the AP reports that the state does not currently give preferences in state contracts and for admission to state colleges and universities.
Opponents said the measure is simply being used to create an illusion of a problem that doesn’t exist and to aggravate racial tensions that will be exploited to bring out conservative voters in the 2012 elections.
“If there’s no problem and you’re looking for a solution, there has to be a conclusion that there’s an effort to stir up the fears of people,” Rep. Jabar Shumate, D-Tulsa, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, told the AP.