INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — He was considered the driving force behind the federal law that mandates equal rights for women in public education and athletics.
On Wednesday, hundreds of people gathered at the Statehouse to honor Birch Bayh. The former U.S. senator and Indiana House speaker died in March 14 at the age of 91.
To many Hoosiers, Bayh was a statesman and a gentleman. To those closest to him, he was a husband, father and friend.
“I wasn’t there for his legislative achievements, but still to me, Birch Bayh, my dad, was larger than life.” said Christopher Bayh, one of Birch’s sons.
Former Indiana governor and U.S. senator Evan Bayh said, “My father devoted his life, often against fearsome odds, to defending the ashes of our fathers and our mothers and the temples of our gods.”
As a Democratic U.S. senator serving Indiana, the elder Bayh was instrumental in the 26th Amendment that set the national voting age at 18 or older.
Bayh also pushed in the U.S. Senate for the landmark 1972 federal law that bans discrimination against women in college admissions and athletics.
“His efforts to pass Title IX and his impassioned advocacy for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment helped women across America secure greater rights and find their voice,” said U.S. Rep. André Carson, a Democrat who represents Indianapolis.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said Bayh helped establish the original 15,000 acres of the Indiana Dunes National Park among many other achievements.
“If ever there is a Mount Rushmore of Indiana political figures,” the Republican governor said, “surely and certainly, Birch Bayh would be on it.”
Evan Bayh said he will forever remember not only the legislator’s accomplishments, but the good times with the man he called dad. “What a big life. What a meaningful life. There’s no greater honor than to be honored by your fellow countrymen.”
Evan Bayh also said he will remember something his dad always told him: “Always do what’s right.”