Birch Bayh, a three-term U.S. senator whose legacy left a lasting mark on the constitution and for women, died on Thursday from pneumonia.
Bayh, 91, was elected to the Indiana State House before winning the U.S. Senate in 1962 when he was 34-years-old.
Nicknamed ‘The Father of Title IX,’ Bayh was predominantly responsible for Title IX, an amendment to a 1972 education act that says no one should be denied benefits or subjected to discrimination to any education program based on sex.
“One of the great failings of the American educational system is the continuation of corrosive and unjustified discrimination against women,” Bayh said during a speech in 1972. “It is clear to me that sex discrimination reaches into all facets of education – admissions, scholarships programs, faculty hiring and promotion, professional staffing and pay scales.”
Bayh has said Title IX brought him his greatest satisfaction, according to the New York Times, but he accomplished so much more.
He was the principal author of two successful constitutional amendments. The 25th Amendment, passed in 1967, revised the succession of the presidency and vice presidency and what happens when the president is incapacitated. He also was crucial to the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
Bayh was also involved in the 1964 Civil Rights Act as well as the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“He was a champion of equality for all Americans and opportunity for those in need of it,” his son Evan, a former U.S. senator himself, told CNN. “He will be remembered as someone who wanted opportunity, equality, justice … regardless of station or birthright.”
Bayh’s passing comes just two months after the death of Dr. Bernise Sandler, otherwise known as the ‘Godmother of Title IX.’
She has been credited for pioneering the first federal investigation of campus sex discrimination, leading to the creation of Title IX.
Bayh remained involved with Title IX long after it was passed, often speaking publicly on current issues.
“If I took the whole panoply of inequality and absolute criminal activity against women, I think the most egregious conduct – where the most danger was done by the way they were treated – was in education,” he said in 2010.
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