Lawmaker wants to remove racial references from Ohio law

By KATE ROBERTS, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A state senator wants to remove racial phrases such as "colored persons," "white persons" and "Negroes" from Ohio law.

"These words used in Ohio law are simply outdated," Sen. Mark Mallory, a Cincinnati Democrat, said Monday. "There is no reason these offensive terms should still be used today."

An 1889 state law dealing with life insurance claims for private businesses refers to "colored persons." Two other sections written in 1935 and 1967 use the world "Negro" when outlining
nondiscriminatory hiring practices. Mallory introduced a bill Tuesday to change that reference to "African-American."

University of Cincinnati law professor Jack Chin brought the matter to Mallory's attention, the senator said. Chin also is the one who pointed out last fall that Ohio was the only state that hadn't ratified 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection to all citizens.

The Legislature approved the amendment in 1867 but later rescinded the ratification. The Legislature voted this spring to ratify the amendment, 135 years after the rest of the country.

Chin and his students at UC have been using computer databases to search for outdated language and laws that may now be considered offensive.

"Five or six year ago, when I saw South Carolina and Alabama repealing prohibitions on interracial marriages, I was shocked they were still on the books," Chin said. "It made me wonder what else
was still on the books."

He said he doesn't expect to find too many more examples of Ohio law where outdated terms such as "Negro" are still on record.

Chin said later amendments to the Constitution prohibited discrimination on the basis of race. That terminology was picked up and used in many state and local laws, eliminating the need for words describing any certain race.

Mallory noted that only one House member voted against the 14th Amendment issue in the spring.

"I haven't started shopping for support for this yet but I don't anticipate there would be any opposition to this," he said Tuesday.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)