“Affirmative action is any measure that considers race, gender, disability or veteran status to provide opportunities to qualified individuals who have historically been denied opportunities and to prevent continued discrimination,” she said.
“It is not, as many legislators suggested, a quota system.”
Douglas said he plans to meet with the governor and attorney general to voice the NAACP's concerns about SJR 15 and to see whether they can do anything to prevent it from being placed on next year's ballot.
Kern, who drew fire three years ago when she told an Oklahoma City Republican group that the homosexual agenda is a bigger threat than terrorism or Islam to America, said equal opportunity should be based on ability regardless of color and gender.
“What about personal initiative? What about personal drive? What about hard work?” she asked. “Doesn't that enter in somewhere?
“It's character that ought to count,” she said.
After Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, argued against the measure partly because one in four black males are in prison or on some type of probation, Kern asked, “Is this just because they're black that they're in prison, or could it be because they didn't want to work hard in school?
“I taught school for 20 years, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn't want to work as hard,” she said, reading from notes. “They wanted it given to them.”
On gender equality
Kern said she didn't worry about equal pay during her career. She said some studies show women are underpaid, but when actual hours worked and work hazards are factored in, women earn more than men.
“Women usually don't want to work as hard as a man,” Kern said. “Women tend to think a little bit more about their family, wanting to be at home more time, wanting to have a little more leisure time.
“I'm not saying women don't work hard,” she said. “Women like ... to have a moderate work life with plenty of time for spouse and children and other things like that. They work very hard, but sometimes they aren't willing to commit their whole life to their job like a lot of men do.”
Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, 24, said discrimination still occurs against women. She said she and her brother applied for home loans about the same time; her loan took longer to process, and she had to make a larger down payment.
“I don't want a handout, and I don't think any woman does,” she said.
Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, said, “I don't believe women have reached their equal rights in Oklahoma.”
Morrissette said it wasn't that long ago — 1965 — when separate water fountains were in place in downtown Oklahoma City for blacks and whites.
“Let's call it what it is,” he said of the measure. “Garbage.”