Penna. Aj Committee Backs Bill Denying Liquor Licenses to Discriminating Clubs

The American Jewish Committee has endorsed a bill pending in the State Legislature that would deny liquor licenses to clubs that engaged in discrimination. The endorsement was contained in letters to the bill’s sponsors, House majority leader Rep. K. Leroy Irvis and State Sen. Frederick H. Hobbs, written by J.C. Leff and Dr. Murray Friedman, the AJ Committee regional president and regional director respectively. The Jewish leaders urged that the Pennsylvania Legislature investigate and hold public hearings on restrictive club practices. The bill and the AJ Committee endorsement arose from an incident last Dec. 29 when Rep. Irvis, a Negro, was denied service in the dining room of the Harrisburg Moose Lodge while present in the lodge as a guest of a member. A three-member panel of the State Human Relations Commission has recommended that it issue a cease and desist order to the club. The AJ Committee letters cited a 1966 study which showed that 36 downtown and country clubs in 13 communities maintained restrictive practices based on race, religion and/or ethnic origin. The survey concluded that “social club discrimination is the most pervasive form of institutional anti-Semitism in our state.”

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