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Ohio Governor Signs Law Against Racial and Religious Discrimination

Governor Michael V. DiSalle today signed into law House Bill 918, aimed at combatting discrimination in public accommodations because of race, creed, color or national origin. Passage of the legislation, which was vigorously supported by leaders of both political parties, was largely due to the efforts of the Ohio Committee for Civil Rights Legislation, in which religious, labor, racial, and civic groups are represented. The organized Jewish communities of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton, Columbus and Youngstown have been active supporters of the committee, together with representatives of the other religious faiths.

The legislation completely revises the Ohio Public Accommodations Act, which goes back to the 19th century. It provides that the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, established in 1959, will have enforcement powers to prevent racial and religious discrimination in hotels, restaurants, barber shops, skating rinks, and all other places of public accommodations. Legal experts have pointed out that the act marks a significant step forward in the attainment of human rights, since it replaces the former procedure which required the offended person to initiate suit himself and thereby reduced the legislation to a dead letter for all practical purposes.

Under the new provisions, an offended person need only make out an affidavit reporting the discrimination and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission is then charged with responsibility for seeing that the discrimination is eliminated. From a Jewish standpoint, the bill is notable in that it marks the first time that discrimination against persons because of their religious faith is prohibited. The earlier act had been limited to racial discrimination.

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