Ohio House Bill 610 (Gender Discrimination Prohibition)

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Beginning in 1923, every United States Congress debated an equal rights amendment to the United States Constitution to grant women constitutional rights. Until 1972, none of these amendments passed the Congress. On March 22, 1972, the Congress finally approved an amendment that stated, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The Congress then submitted the amendment, known as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), to the states for approval.

To go into effect, thirty-eight of the fifty states had to agree to the amendment. Originally the states had only seven years to ratify the amendment, but the Congress eventually extended the deadline to June 30, 1982. By June 30, 1982, thirty-five out of the required thirty-eight states had ratified the amendment and several additional states were in the process of approving it as well. Ohio ratified the amendment in 1974. However, the deadline passed, and the amendment failed, making women the only group in the United States to not have an explicit guarantee of their rights in the United States Constitution.

Fortunately for women, many states enacted their own laws that prohibited gender discrimination. In 1973, the Ohio state government passed House Bill 610. This bill prohibited gender discrimination in employment, housing, and in public accommodations. It resulted from an investigative committee, Committee on the Status of Women, created by Governor James A. Rhodes in 1966. While this bill did not give women protections under the United States Constitution, it did help establish a more equal situation for women in Ohio.

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