Task Force Disappointed At California Proposition 209 Decision

April 10, 1997

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) joins with other civil rights advocates throughout the country in expressing its dismay and disappointment with yesterday's federal appeals court decision upholding the constitutionality of California's Proposition 209. The decision in the anti-affirmative action initiative by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, overturns an injunction issued by a federal district court judge which has banned implementation of the ballot measure since its approval in November.

Proposition 209 eliminates affirmative action programs, bars "preferential treatment," and discrimination in public hiring, contracting and education.

According to the opinion of one judge speaking about the decision of the federal district judge who issued the injuction, "[A] system which permits one judge to block with the stroke of a pen what 4,736,180 state residents voted to enact as law tests the integrity of our constitutional democracy."

"The decision yesterday by the federal appeals court is disappointing in many respects, said Kerry Lobel, Executive Director of NGLTF. "First, it allows for the implementation of a measure that is clearly meant to turn back the clock on the civil rights of women and people of color. Second, it ignores the reality that ongoing discrimination continues to pose special problems or obstacles to the hiring, promotion and contracting opportunities of women and people of color. Even a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has embraced race-conscious remedies in the recent Adarand case."

"Also disturbing," according to Lobel, "is that the decision includes gratuitous language attacking affirmative action programs. At least one of the judges has forgotten that the judiciary exists precisely as a check against the will of the majority, if the majority threatens constitutional rights and privileges, " she added. "The gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangender community is fully aware of these attacks since they were also used against the U.S. Supreme Court when it threw out Colorado's anti-gay ballot measure," Lobel went on.

Helen Gonzales, NGLTF Public Policy Director noted that "this decision is of importance to the gay community because affirmative action policies affect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of color." "Also, so long as there are forces at work in this country trying to dismantle policies geared toward remedying continued discrimination against women and people of color, we cannot expect recognition of the human dignity and civil rights of gays," Gonzales concluded.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.