An Open Letter on Referendum 74 in Washington State

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve spent a number of days–weeks even–contemplating how to discuss one component of this year’s election with you. It’s an issue that is very personal to me and many of my friends who I have met over the years. It’s one that hits home, not just for me, but for others from Odessa, Davenport, Wilbur, Reardan and more… I’m talking about an issue that was first brought up in the summer of 2004, by the front page of The Spokesman-Review. It was July 12, to be exact. I remember it all too well…and here’s the link to the article online: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2004/jul/12/group-offers-gay-youths-chance-to-find-acceptance/

Yes, the issue I’m talking about is homosexuality, and equal rights in particular.

This year, after a courageous move by the legislature and governor to support marriage equality by casting a majority vote in the House and Senate, and signing that bill into law, they did something that we can’t always rely upon the masses to do: Represent the voices of the minority and the oppressed. And this isn’t the first time that has happened:

  • Slavery: 1865
  • Women’s right to vote: 1919
  • African-Americans’ right to vote: 1965
  • Interracial marriage: 1967

All of these issues relied upon the courage, compassion, and forward-thinking mindset of our elected representatives and appointed justices to do something that the broad American public would most likely not have taken into their own hands: Make a decision to grant second-class citizens the same rights–equal, civil and human–that others already took for granted.

Now the issue of marriage equality, as it is on the ballot today, does have one major complication that the others perhaps did not have to face: Religious intolerance.

While I do not expect–nor do I aim to challenge or change anyone’s religious beliefs–I do have faith in the human desire to treat others fairly, equally and as fellow humans. It’s a principle that I would argue nearly every mainstream religion proclaims. Let me put it in other words: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

I recognize that some may not want to veer away from centuries of doctrine that were written and re-written (and re-interpreted by those individuals in power to meet their own needs). However, I challenge that way of thinking by bringing forward several “teachings” that we have since discarded as illogical, inhuman, and even immoral over the years:

  • Slavery is permitted (Leviticus 25:44 and Exodus 21:7)
  • It’s not okay to sleep with your in-laws (Lev. 20:14)
  • We can’t eat shellfish (Lev. 11:10)
  • It’s a sin to plant two different crops in the same field; same as it is to wear garments made of more than one thread (Lev. 19:19)
  • And more…

We have advanced as a society to realize that many of these doctrines were written during different times and perhaps furthered the causes of those who wrote them or empowered them to be written.

And if we leave religion out of it, then let’s look to science, and the following that say “homosexuality is not an abomination or disease”:

  • DSM-II (seventh printing) removed homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1974 by the American Psychiatric Association
  • Scholarly journal articles and research supporting the “theory” of a “gay gene” (most recently in 2012)

So let’s take a moment to analyze the arguments that are being made by the “Reject 74” campaign which is funded in our state by Preserve Marriage Washington. Which, actually, receives quite a bit of support for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) as well as Frank Schubert, NOM’s political director who has a PR firm. Okay, I digress…back to their arguments against legalizing marriage equality:

  • Children will be forced to learn about it in schools.
    Parents have the authority to remove their children from sex ed classes. History teachers focus on the issues and do not teach us about the morality of them. Our values are something we learn from you–our parents–at home and in church.
  • Those who do not agree to perform same-sex marriage services will suffer from lawsuits.
    First, I do not plan on giving my business to anyone who declines to celebrate my marriage with me–I’ll take my hard-earned money elsewhere and not spend the time, money or effort to sue them. Second, the law explicitly states that religious institutions do not need to perform the services if they do not want to.
  • The slippery slope will begin.
    What exactly are the snowballs that they are concerned about in this pending “avalanche?” Is the argument being made that the abolishment of slavery led to right for women to vote, which caused African-Americans to vote, and ultimately made it possible for interracial marriages to occur?
  • You don’t have to be anti-gay to support rejecting Referendum 74.
    I’d like to point out this statement on the Preserve Marriage Washington website: “Refusal to accommodate and recognize same-sex ‘marriages’ would be the equivalent of racial discrimination.” So in other words, it’s okay to discriminate against the LGBT population by not providing them with the same rights as others, and it’s really not discrimination because they already have “everything but marriage?”
  • They already have all the rights they needs with “everything but marriage” legislation.
    Well, let’s take a look at that, shall we? I’m not able to count them on my hands…

    • Marriage: Over 1,049 federal and state level benefits
    • Civil Unions: Over 300 state level benefits. *No federal protection

And now, I present, for your consideration, several scenarios that might have a more personal meaning:

  • The vote on Referendum 74 will determine whether I will ever be able to be truly married. I’d like that to happen. I know that the both of you would too.
  • Even if I do have a domestic partnership or civil union, I would someday be able to say, “Why yes, I am married.”
  • Preventing me from expressing my love and commitment to another person makes me less likely to have a child of my own…because in his or her eyes, both dads won’t be truly recognized as a married couple. How’s that for a conversation to have with your kids?

Please take a moment to place yourself in my shoes and consider the above statements and scenarios. Does it make you feel like a second-class citizen?

I hope that as you cast your vote, you look beyond the hurtful TV ads and rhetoric that have been designed to reinforce outdated, hateful doctrine. A “yes” vote is a vote of love for your son. And, isn’t that what it all ultimately comes down to? Love.

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A change will do you good.

July 1 marks the halfway point of the year. Usually people reflect upon their lives annually on New Year’s Eve. But why wait? I decided to challenge myself now. And after spending the weekend “off the grid”… out of touch with most of the world… I found myself not completely happy with where I’m at. Now, that’s not to say that I’m disappointed with what I have accomplished so far this year. But, it’s a solemn reminder that if we lose focus of our goals, we will never achieve them.

Health & Wellness

This is probably the goal that I have neglected the most. Yes, I played volleyball earlier this year. Yes, I ran a 4.5 mile obstacle course. And yes, I have made more deliberate food choices (for the most part), when it comes to sodium intake. However, I’ve failed to get into the gym the minimum of two times per week. I’ve also been lax on the cardio that I should be doing…daily. And lastly, I haven’t been eating nearly as healthy as I could.

Therefore, I’ve decided to make the following changes starting today:

  • 30 minutes of cardio daily (ideally jogging in the morning when I first wake up–yes, this means I’ll need to wake up earlier)
  • No bread. It’s crazy, I know. But I want to challenge myself and cut out unnecessary food.
  • Healthier food choices. This includes: less cheese, more almonds and nuts, as well as protein shakes for breakfast. Also: good bye soda…hello more water and unsweetened iced tea… and less alcohol as well.

Financials

I’m giving myself kudos in this particular area. I’ve been doing a better job of budgeting each month, spending less on non-essential items, and saving money while paying down debt. But, I know I can do more. So, if you’re someone who is close to me, I challenge you to keep me accountable by:

  • Reminding me that just because it’s on sale or clearance, I don’t need it.
  • Asking me how much I’ve put away in my savings this month.

Career Path

With change comes opportunity. There have already been, and I’m certain will be more, changes in our department at work. This means I need to focus myself on how I can be:

  • A strong, high-performing contributor, throughout the organization.
  • A leader… for my coworkers and others.
  • Knowledgeable and ready for any situation.
  • More in-tune with the needs and emotions of those around me.
  • Positioned to stretch myself–finding opportunities and challenges to advance me both personally and professionally.
Posted in Life

Leaked: The Gay Agenda [CONFIDENTIAL]

I found it! Until now, extreme conservatives referred to this ever-elusive document as the pending downfall of America, including the “institution of marriage,” but no one had ever seen it. Well, with my numerous “inside sources” which shall remain nameless, I was able to obtain a copy of this confidential document.

The once confidential "Gay Agenda"

Now this is definitely something to be afraid of.

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Just a Spoonful of Hallucinogens

I have watched Mary Poppins many times while growing up (and I still consider myself in the process of growing up), so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw the [off-] Broadway show on opening night in Spokane: Would it be a live version of the movie, nothing like it, or somewhere in between? On my “Poppometer,” I’d say it fell somewhere in between, and in a good way. Now before I go any further, let me set the record straight on two very important things:

  • I am not a professional broadway critic, no matter how delusional I am, and
  • I did not receive compensation to write a rave review, but I was given tickets by West Coast Entertainment in return for sharing my genuine thoughts.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on. Spit spot.

Just a spoonful of hallucinogens you say?

Well, that’s what I finally inferred after all of these years of hearing, “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” But how did I come to that deduction? It’s quite simple, really. In the show, Mary Poppins gave spoonfuls of her “medicine” to the folks on Cherry Tree Lane, and when she did, the set turned into a dazzling display of colors, lights and wackiness. Now I’ve never partaken in hallucinogenic substances before (close your mouth, you’re not a codfish), but I imagine that if I did, my experience would be similar to that.

In the near future, we won’t teleport, we’ll umbrellate

It’s quite practical, really. Umbrellas are already a common accessory, particularly in geographic areas with high precipitation. Now all we need is some kind of clean, efficient quantum/ion drive that has omni-directional propulsion controls, and we’ll be all set. I enjoyed seeing Mary Poppins fly across the stage with her umbrella–it’s that extra touch that makes the show that much more magical. And come on, who wouldn’t want to sport the latest Coach, Louis Vuitton, or college/professional sports team-themed accessory that not only protects your body from unwanted moisture, but transports you quickly…and in style. Of course, you could always go with the timeless classic: parrot handle.

It’s four o’clock somewhere

The part of me that likes quirky things, such as meticulous attention to detail or lack thereof, searched for these throughout the show. I’m sure there were plenty that I overlooked, but the one that really stood out to me was the Roman numeral on the clock in the bank. Almost immediately, I noticed that it wasn’t the standard IV that you see when we write Roman numerals, but instead, was the traditional IIII that is seen on clocks. Surprised? Read the Wikipedia article on it. The set was practically perfect in every way. Bravo, set designers.

Can you hear me now?

I really wish I could think of another heading, rather than utilizing one of the most annoying marketing slogans of the 21st Century. But, I’m too lazy to think of something better, so you win, Verizon. My one major critique of the show was that even though we were sitting in prime seats, orchestra level, center, was that at times, it was difficult to hear what the actors were saying. Now, it’s quite possible that because this was opening night, they hadn’t quite worked out all the kinks yet. And hopefully the audio technicians and booth folks picked up on that for the remaining shows.

Now that song is stuck in my head

By far, my favorite musical number of the evening was “Step in Time,” which I don’t recall being as energetic in the movie. However, it surpassed the entertaining value of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” which was an interesting adaptation in itself (picking out letters from a “candy shop”). I practically wanted to quit my day job (if my coworkers are reading this, I’m not that serious…sorry) and become a chimney sweeper. And the choreography was fantastic.

A few other notables

And here are just a couple more takeaways from my experience:

  • While the Mary Poppins movie is geared towards kids, the Broadway show may not be ideal for them if they: aren’t able to sit still for a good hour at a time, are in the phase of asking questions about everything instead of just watching the show, would be overwhelmed by the lighting effects and potentially “dark parts” of the show (nannies fighting each other, giant toys/stuffed animals that terrorize kids, etc.).
  • Don’t expect it to follow the plot line of the movie. Yes, there are similarities, but be open-minded to an on-stage “interpretation” of the story.
  • As many times as you may want to yell out, “Will you be my nanny, Mary Poppins?” this isn’t the time or place for it.
  • Consider polling your friends afterwards as to whether Mary and Bert finally kiss au revoir style.
  • Child Protective Services wouldn’t approve of brimstone and treacle and cod liver oil.

See for yourself

If you’re interested in attending the show, you can visit the West Coast Entertainment Best of Broadway website for showtimes and tickets. It’s currently running in Spokane June 12-17, 2012.

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Open Letter to Congress: #RaiseMBLCap

Member Business Lending: Raise the cap so credit unions to help the economy and small businesses.

April 12, 2012

RE: SB 2231

Dear United States Senators:

Credit unions have the opportunity to make a difference, but only if you support their efforts by passing S. 2231, raising the cap on how much they can lend to businesses. As a citizen of eastern Washington for most of my life, and a son of parents in a farming town whose economy relied heavily upon small business support, I know that our economy depends upon the “Mom and Pop” stores that provide niche services to our communities. My friends, family and I have been employed by many of these, and know how important it is for them to access additional funds, through the form of loans, to sustain and grow their businesses.

I strongly urge you to vote in favor of this bill, and help open up new funding streams for the backbone of America, and Washington State. In fact, America’s small businesses are the driving force of employment and economic improvement. My experience in the business community, serving on the boards of local business chambers, has informed me of the struggles that small businesses have in obtaining loans.

Credit unions have been extremely sound in their lending practices, as their focus is not on the bottom line, but on their membership—a cooperative mix of individual and business members who have come together to pool their financial resources in order to assist one another. Thus, these financial institutions are responsible and held accountable by their members, looking out for their best interests by making financial decisions (lending, rates, etc.) that are fiscally responsible.

Now, you have the opportunity to join this cooperative spirit, by lifting the cap from 12.25% to 25%, releasing nearly $13 billion in new funds, and potentially creating 140,000 jobs that America needs to thrive in this economy.

Thank you for helping America’s—and Washington’s—small business owners and workers by supporting S. 2231, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Bill.

Respectfully,

Lance Kissler

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New Year’s ReSOLUTIONS

I’m committing myself to three general, yet measurable, resolutions this year: health and wellness, finances, and career. Oh, and one *bonus* resolution: my approach towards dating.

Health & Wellness

 

  • Reduce my body fat percentage to around 15%
  • Lose 10-20 pounds and replace it with muscle mass
  • Restart my running (5k, 10k, and eventually a half-marathon)
  • Commit to more cardio workouts
  • Play more golf, tennis, and volleyball
  • Eat healthier and investigate options such as cutting out sweets, dairy and other “less healthy” foods

Finances

  • Put away 10% of my monthly paycheck towards a future downpayment on a house
  • Spend less on unnecessary items
  • Budget for discretionary spending, such as vacations, clothing, etc.
  • Pay down debt and avoid incurring more

Career

  • Further develop my leadership skills
  • Position myself as an asset throughout the marketing department, as well as the organization
  • Successfully teach as an adjunct faculty member and attain satisfactory (or higher) course evaluations
  • Post to my blogs on a regular basis
  • Provide my knowledge, skills and service to respective boards, committees and other volunteer opportunities in the community

Dating

    • Be less “aggressive” in pursuing dates…I don’t always need to be the one chasing
    • Think twice before composing messages (whether via text, email, Facebook, etc.) to dates/potential dates
    • Take things slow
    • Finish reading the Idiot’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right

 

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NYE Kiss

I’ve never had a New Year’s Eve kiss*.

*while in a relationship 

It’s true. Every year, on December 31st, I’ve been deprived of the meaningful smack on the lips when the clock strikes midnight, the ball drops in Times Square, and Dick Clark announces another 365 days. Yes, I’ve been the recipient of a pucker or two, but not one that meant anything more than that really.

I’ve gotten close…with a relationship ending just a few weeks before NYE. Then again, we were seeing each other long distance at the time, and there hadn’t been plans to spend NYE together. Another time, I had just started hanging out with someone…but let’s just say that the level of chemistry that night wasn’t aligned with that of the firework display in the distance.

Sure, I’ve been out to the bars and attended parties, and may have received a ceremonial smack on the lips here and there…but never one that did more than fulfill an annual tradition.

This year? It’ll be no different.

Next year? Well, according to one of my friends (who I’m still quoting), I’m writing 2011 off as a “ramping up” year…with hopes that 2012 will ring in something more meaningful. And that’s something I can toast to at the closing of 2011.

Posted in Dating, Life | 2 Comments