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I was gratified to see “The Back Page” column by Michael Falk and Elena Long (APS News, March 2016) in which Falk recalled his 1994 letter to APS News defending the APS Council action on Colorado Proposition 2. I wrote the preceding letter in that issue defending the action, as the representative of the APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA).
I was responsible for bringing the issue to the attention of POPA, motivated by my longtime association with the Aspen Center for Physics. I believed not only that Proposition 2 was morally wrong, but as an Aspen homeowner whom gay inlaws now felt uncomfortable visiting, I felt that it trampled on my property rights. After considerable discussion, POPA took action, and the resolution ultimately passed. There was not unanimous support for APS getting involved; my recollection is that both in POPA and in Council, the resolution passed by roughly 2 to 1.
This episode had an interesting personal aftermath. After my term as a POPA member was finished, I was asked to run for Chair of POPA and was told by the Nominating Committee that I was very likely to be selected. Anticipating a heavy workload, I resigned a year early from a National Academy commission on which I had completed two years of a three-year term. In November 1995, I was informed that I had not been elected as chair; it appears that in suggesting APS take action on Proposition 2, I had made enemies as well as friends. I was not informed who was elected POPA Chair, a defect in the APS election procedure.
Having now an open block of time, and seeing that any further role in APS governance was closed, I decided to resume piano lessons and regular practice that I had stopped at age 16. I have never regretted this decision, which has brought me great pleasure over the years.
Stephen L. Adler
Princeton, New Jersey
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