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Rotary Must Readmit California Chapter With Women Members

July 28, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Supreme Court justice has refused to let Rotary International oust, even temporarily, a California chapter for admitting women.

Justice William H. Rehnquist left intact a ruling that the parent organization must readmit a Rotary chapter in Duarte, Calif., that was ousted in 1978.

Rehnquist’s action was taken late Friday but was not announced until today.

A California appeals court last March ordered Rotary International to reinstate the Duarte chapter by July 24.

The organization then asked Rehnquist to suspend the state court ruling until the full Supreme Court has an opportunity to consider a formal appeal by Rotary International.

Rehnquist has jurisdiction over such emergency requests in California cases.

Rotary International has some 20,000 clubs with more than 900,000 members in 54 countries. It was founded 81 years ago by four Chicago men and took its name from their practice of rotating meeting sites to each member’s place of business.

The Duarte chapter was kicked out by the parent group in 1978 after it admitted three women, Mary Lou Elliott, Donna Bogart and Rosemary Freitag.

Only Ms. Elliott still is a member. The other two women moved to other communities.

The California 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that Rotary clubs are business establishments subject to regulation by the state’s Unruh Act banning discrimination based on race, sex, religion or ethnic origin.

The Supreme Court in 1984 ruled that the Jaycees may be forced by state laws to admit women as full members with the same status as men.

″We had hoped it would not get to this point and that Rotary would take the lead and make the moe voluntarily,″ said Duarte Rotary president Richard Brooks.

″My only comment is that we’re disappointed,″ said Philip Lindsey, general secretary of Rotary International in Evanston, Ill.

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