Students Must Defeat Knight Initiative

Gray Chynoweth is the ASUC external affairs vice president and Nick Papas is the chief of staff in the ASUC External Affairs Office. Respond to them at [email protected]





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For the past three weeks, a coalition of student groups led by the ASUC External Affairs Office has worked to register UC Berkeley students to vote and participate in the March 7, 2000 primary. The drive brought multiple student organizations together to register voters and ensure that students are heard at the polls. The drive registered 3,378 voters, a number we believe to be a record for a primary election voter registration drive at UC Berkeley.

Yet at a time when politics and politicians seem to be controlled by big money and special interests, more and more students are tuning out, dismissing politics as irrelevant. Many political pundits predict that this election will once again see low youth-voter turnout.

However, the March election is one that is extraordinarily important to the future of the state of California. In addition to picking presidential nominees, 20 policy initiatives will be on the California ballot. One of the most notable, and if passed, most harmful, is Proposition 22, the so-called Knight Initiative. Proposition 22 is the brainchild of California state Sen. William "Pete" Knight. It would prohibit the recognition of gay and lesbian marriages by the state of California.

Knight's motives for authoring the initiative are suspect. His son and brother are both openly gay, leading many to believe that the initiative is the product of a vicious family feud turned public.

Furthermore, the initiative unfairly discriminates against gays and lesbians. Proposition 22 represents a concerted effort on the part of Knight to single out a group of individuals in society for discrimination by the state. Under Proposition 22, gay and lesbian couples who have been together for years would be barred from basic hospital visitation and other rights the state should guarantee for partners, regardless of their sexual orientation.

It is impossible ignore the blatant homophobic tones that underscore the Knight initiative. While the proponents of Proposition 22 may talk about "defending marriage," in reality, the initiative is a direct attack on gay and lesbians in California and throughout the country. It is a misplaced desire, by some, to exclude gays and lesbians from mainstream society. Such antiquated and intolerant ideas cannot and should not be supported.

For these and many other reasons, the ASUC has joined the elected officials who oppose Proposition 22. Democrats and Republicans from throughout the country have said they plan to fight the initiative. The opposition includes Vice President Al Gore, Presidential candidate Bill Bradley and U.S. Rep.Tom Campbell.

In the coming days, the ASUC External Affairs Office will be organizing get out the vote drives to ensure that UC Berkeley students vote March 7. In addition, the ASUC External Affairs Office will be issuing voter guides that will help students cast informed votes. If you would like to join our efforts and help get students to the polls, please contact the ASUC External Affairs Office.

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