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Birch Bayh, 91, Dies; Senator Drove Title IX and 2 Amendments

He is survived by a son from that marriage, Birch Evans Bayh III, a former governor of Indiana and senator from that state who is known as Evan; and two grandchildren. He is also survived by his second wife, Katherine (Halpin) Bayh, known as Kitty, and their son, Christopher.

After leaving the Senate, Mr. Bayh was chairman of a commission on presidential disability sponsored by the Miller Center at the University of Virginia and the founding chairman of the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence, a nonprofit organization.

He also become the subject of a sexual-assault accusation in 2016 by a technology journalist, Xeni Jardin, who said in a series of tweets that he had groped her in the 1990s in the back seat of a car in the presence of unidentified male colleagues of hers. News websites, including Vox, reported the allegation at the time, but Mr. Bayh did not respond publicly. Ms. Jardin repeated the accusation to The Times on Wednesday, saying that Mr. Bayh had been trying to pull her onto his lap as she got into the car. Reached by email on Thursday, a Bayh family spokesman did not comment on the accusation.

Mr. Bayh stayed involved with Title IX long after he was defeated for re-election in 1980 by Dan Quayle, the future vice president under George H. W. Bush. While Title IX was not particularly controversial when enacted, arguments over it deepened through the years. Mr. Bayh spoke publicly on the issue, served on commissions that weighed its impact and acted as a lawyer in lawsuits concerning it while a partner in the Washington office of Venable LLP.

“If I took the whole panoply of inequality and absolute criminal activity against women,” he said in the 2010 interview, “I think the most egregious conduct — where the most damage was done by the way they were treated — was in education. Many of the premier institutions wouldn’t let women in. Others had quotas. Others would let women in but would confine them to the ‘women’s’ curriculum.”

He credited his first wife with inspiring him to take up the cause. After meeting Marvella Hern at a national speech contest, which she won, he learned that she had wanted to enter the University of Virginia in 1951 but was told that “women need not apply.” (She attended Oklahoma State University instead.)

“So,” he said, “I got a cram course on something I knew absolutely nothing about.”

His education on the issue led to his memorable speech on the Senate floor two decades later. In it he derided the “stereotype of women as pretty things who go to college to find a husband, go on to graduate school because they want a more interesting husband, and finally marry, have children and never work again.”

“The desire of many schools not to waste a ‘man’s place’ on a woman stems from such stereotyped notions,” he said. But, he added, “the facts absolutely contradict these myths about the ‘weaker sex,’ and it is time to change our operating assumptions.”


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