Saturday, October 24, 1998

AARP rescinds stand
on marriage vote

By Mike Yuen


The American Association of Retired Persons is on the sidelines -- not in the trenches fighting for the defeat of a proposed constitutional ban of same-sex marriage, says a high-ranking AARP official.

AARP's endorsement earlier this month of the efforts of Protect Our Constitution and the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, was an unauthorized action taken by just a handful of AARP members in Hawaii who did not consult the isles' AARP chapter president, said Lee White, director of AARP's nine-state Western region, which also includes Guam.

Contrary to what had been claimed, the endorsement did not reflect the sentiments of AARP's 32 million members, including 127,000 in Hawaii, White said yesterday.

The Human Rights Campaign political action committee ran a newspaper advertisement and a TV spot touting AARP's endorsement, but earlier this week ceased doing so at the request of AARP regional officials in Seattle.

The ad and 30-second spot caused an uproar among isle members, as scores of complaints flooded AARP's regional and national offices in Seattle and Washington, D.C., White said. That's how regional and national officials became aware of what was happening.

A news release dated Oct. 8 that carried AARP's logo stated that AARP has no position on same-sex marriage but that AARP opposed passage of the anti-gay marriage measure, contending that it would erode the Hawaii Constitution and "open the door to all kinds of mischief."

"I think it is very disingenuous to say that we encourage a 'no' vote for general constitutional purposes but stay away from the same-sex marriage issue. Those two are so welded," White said.

"AARP is neutral on the topic of same-sex marriages," he stressed, saying it is regrettable that AARP was characterized as taking a stand on an emotionally charged issue that has inflamed passions on both sides.

Same-sex marriage:
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