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Jewish Groups Report “productive Progress” in Civil Rights Legislation

Civil rights legislation in states throughout the country has registered “very productive progress” during the first six months of this year with unprecedented moves leveled against discrimination in private housing, according to results of a survey conducted jointly by the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

The agencies reported that the first state laws barring discrimination or segregation in private housing in the United States were enacted in Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon. In addition, California passed a statute prohibiting discrimination in publicly-aided and redevelopment housing.

Discrimination in employment received a further set-back during this period when the major industrial states of California and Ohio joined 14 other states, including Alaska, which have effective fair employment practice laws enforced by commission procedures. Missouri became the first border or southern state to enact a statute barring discrimination in state employment. This state also made its Temporary Human Rights Commission a permanent agency.

In the realm of housing, Colorado became the first state in the nation to enact a law prohibiting discrimination in all types of housing–private as well as public and publicly-aided. The Colorado law prohibits the owner of any housing unit–other than those occupied by owners or their families–from refusing to sell, rent or lease to any person because of race, creed or national origin.

The anti-discrimination laws in private housing in Massachusetts and Connecticut bar discrimination in multiple dwellings and housing developments. In Oregon, the law applies to people in the business of buying and selling homes. Enforcement of this new legislation is vested in existing state agencies or civil rights commissions which have the responsibility of enforcing other state laws prohibiting discrimination.

The new laws also prohibit the publication of advertising which in any way indicates a preference or limitation with respect to race, religion or national origin. In public accommodations, resort or amusement, the State of Maine joined 22 other states with civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in these areas. Under Maine’s new law, violations are punishable by fines or imprisonment.

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