Jerk of the Week: WA State Rep Pedersen Insults “Religious Views of a Small and Dwindling Minority”

Meet Jamie Pedersen, the prime sponsor of a bill to redefine marriage in the Washington State House.

Here’s how Pedersen responded to a constituent of his who emailed him asking him not to redefine marriage (emphasis mine):

Thanks for your message.  I strongly disagree with you on this issue and am the House prime sponsor of the bill that will provide marriage equality for same-sex couples.  I can assure you that the legislation will provide strong protection for religious liberty. No priest or clergy person will be required to solemnize any marriage, and no religious organization may be compelled to permit its facilities to be used in connection with any marriage.  But civil marriage is a legal construct of the Revised Code of Washington, and it is very much up to the legislature to define who can marry.  I believe that our state has a strong interest in not discriminating against — and harming — the families of same-sex couples based on the religious views of a small and dwindling minority.

All families in Washington are hurt by our current policy of treating some families as different and inferior.  All families in Washington will be strengthened by making civil marriage available to couples regardless of their sexual orientation.

Okay, a lot of things to respond to here.

First, it takes some gumption to tell a constituent that they are for “harming families.”

Second, “the religious views of a small and dwindling minority.” Hold the phone. A majority of people polled by Gallup in Washington State said religion “was an important part of their daily life.” Gay marriage has never been approved by a majority of citizens, and if gay marriage is voted on by the people of Washington state, it will fail there too. The attempt to call believing Christians a “small and dwindling minority” is offensive, and speaks more of his bigotry against people of faith than anything else.

Third, Pedersen’s promises about religious liberty are a red herring. There is no mention, for instance, of any protections provided for individual religious liberty, and there are numerous and increasing examples of individual religious liberty being curtailed wherever marriage is redefined. What, for instance, will happen to religious adoption agencies? The same thing as what just happened in Illinois because of their civil unions legislation? Not hard to imagine. But of course, Pedersen would be happy to see Catholic and faith-based organizations pushed out of the public square. They are, after all, in his mind, “harming” people.

I’ll stop myself here, but I could add much more.

Dear readers, lets send a message to Mr. Pedersen! It’s important that he hears from the “small and dwindling” community of believers who strongly defend marriage, and who strongly defend the right of Churches to preach the good news about family and promote the common good in the public square! Tell him it’s not “harming” anyone to believe that kids deserve to know and be loved by their mom and dad.

Or you could just send him a link to this blog post.

Here is Mr. Pedersen’s contact info:

Mr. Pedersen’s webpage on the WA State Legislature website.

Email him at:

Olympia Office:
330 John L. O’Brien Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7826

District Office: (206) 729-3206





  • Jason Roebuck

    Message sent and I prayed in it that God changes his heart on this issue before he helps do damage to the fabric of our society and his immortal soul. I hope it wasn’t too harsh…God bless you!

    • Greg B.

      Good luck convincing him that he’s less worthy of civil rights than you are.

  • hmmm…

    I find it slightly disturbing that some comments get hidden just because enough people don’t like them, and when I click through, they are clearly serious comments (not trolls). So all it takes is a few people monitoring the site to censor the kinds of comments a viewer has easy access to. Yikes.

  • Tony from Oz

    G’day Thomas,

    Downunder here in Oz I am following the primaries closely, so thanks for the updates and commentary.

    A quick perusal of Pedreson’s bio details on his website reveals, surprise, surprise, the following details:

    “Jamie served for six years as the lower second tenor section leader in the Seattle Men’s Chorus, where he has sung since 1996. He helped to craft the vision of the Chorus: to create a world that values and accepts its gay and lesbian citizens.

    Jamie lives on Capitol Hill with his partner, Eric Pedersen, and their sons Trygve, Leif, Erik and Anders.”

    So there you have it. He is preaching self-interest here. Pit poor Trygve, Leif, Erik and Anders…unless…unless…Eric, his ‘partner’ is in fact ‘Erica’?!!

  • Amanda

    Here is just one way redefining marriage could affect *my* marriage: Traditionally, the husband of a mother was assumed to be the father of a child unless something was said to the contrary. In Massachusetts, for instance (early 2000’s, before same sex marriage came) I had to bring a copy of my marriage license to file for a birth certificate, or an affidavit was needed to state who was the father. There was assumed to be some link between marriage and parenthood. As same sex marriage is introduced, and as marriage is supposed to become “the same” for everyone, it will be impossible to assume that married-to-mother and bio-father will be (most often) the same. Declaring the parents of a child to be its biological parents (aside from special case of adoption) would not be treating same-sex couples identically to opposite-sex couples, so biology might be discarded as the basis for defining parenthood. When biology is no longer the basis for parenthood, where will it come from? The only thing all-encompassing enough would be the state. Do you want the state to determine who counts as your child’s parents?
    And as for the state taking on this role, already there are states in the US (and at least one working on the legislation) where the state can get involved, even in intact families, to give other people “visitation rights” with a child. I would argue this is a tremendous weakening of your (opposite-sex) marriage when your local Family Law Court can tell you and your husband that your biological child must have visitation with a third party whether or not you approve, without you having done anything wrong to invite the Court into your home.
    Also worth noting that as this plays out, it is specifically fathers that get marginalized – already in Canada, the father’s place on a birth certificate is devolving to an “other parent” or at best a check box choice between “father” and “other parent”. I would argue that a child has a fundamental right (not to mention a civil right) to know and be known by his biological parents, and any structure that institutionally strips him of this right forever is unjust.

    • SearchCz

      Check that again Amanda … the “status quo” that you describe does not assume that the “bio-father” is the parent. On the contrary, the law assigns that responsibility to the spouse, regardless of who the biological father might be. That is, unless somebody else with the capacity to do so wishes to assume that legal responsibility, and the biological parents assent.

      And these states where family court can grant 3rd parties visitation rights … #1, you are mistaken (or lying) when you claim that courts can impose a 3rd party into the parenting equation without you having done anything wrong. Fit parents, particularly in intact families, are presumed to have the right to decide who can and cannot visit their children. (so said the Supremes in Troxel v. Granville). And #2, this issue has EVERYTHING to do with grandparents and NOTHING to do with marriage equality.

      And since you mention Canada – where I live – you should know that we protect the rights of adopted children to know who their biological parents are, and potentially get in contact with those individuals.

  • Helen Ryder

    ‘First, it takes some gumption to tell a constituent that they are for “harming families.”’

    Yes, you would know that it does take some ‘gumption’ – after all you, the pope and most recently, the Catholic clergy in WA – are constantly telling gay and lesbian people that their fight to gain their constitutional rights to civil equality will ‘hurt’ the economy (marriage equality gained MA, IA and NH millions in revenue from , marriage (how? I’m heterosexual and they aren’t hurting MY marriage) and ‘the existance of the human race’ (there are now over 7 billion people in the world – I don’t think heterosexuals are going to suddenly stop reproducing just because the gay community are legally wed.) Your position and those who support it ARE harming families – and very deliberately too.

    ‘Second, “the religious views of a small and dwindling minority.” ‘

    I fully respect the right of a citizen to their personal beliefs. Now, when are you going to respect other people’s right NOT to have their civil rights withheld because of YOUR private beliefs? Plus, civil rights should NEVER be put to the vote.

    ‘Third, Pedersen’s promises about religious liberty are a red herring.’

    Religious adoption agencies are perfectly within their rights to refuse to place children in same-sex families – IF they act as a private agency and DO NOT take state or federal funding. If they want the funding, then they must abide by the anti-discrimination laws of the state and not discriminate against gay couples. The agencies you refer to CHOSE to close rather than convert to a private adoption agency. BTW, other agencies have stepped in to take up the gap and support and place in loving homes the children that the Catholic Adoption agency abandoned.

    I hope that this has clarified State Senator Pedersen’s position – and why he will be receiving my full support and approval.

    • Tom

      Helen…what is marriage?

      • Bruce

        Helen’s silence is deafening. They say, “Marriage equality for all!” We say, “What is marriage?” They say, “We don’t know, but somethings wrong!”

        • SearchCz

          As far as the state is concerned, marriage is a legal contract that creates obligations and imparts protections to the people who enter into that institution. And while marriage customs, traditions, and restrictions vary from place to place and time to time, the english speaking world mostly understands this to be an institution available to two consenting un-married adults who are not close blood relatives.

          • Tom


            First, you say marriage is “a legal contract that creates obligations and imparts protections to the people in that institution.” You then proceed to say it’s an “institution” that has been available to “two consenting un-married adults who are not close blood relatives.” Essentially, you substitute “marriage” with “institution” and leave the question unanswered. That’s circular reasoning. And while you’ve described certain accidental attributes of marriage (i.e., the bundle and rights and responsibilities society attaches to it), you haven’t defined what marriage actually is.

          • SearchCz


            I think you must have missed the part where I said “marriage is a legal contract”.

            Or more plainly:

            Q: What is marriage?
            A: A legal contract.

          • Tom


            Defining marriage as “a legal contract” says nothing. It adds no content, but merely describes an accidental feature; namely: that married people have rights and responsibilities that may be enforced by the power of the state. As a definition of marriage, it’s demonstrably wrong. If no state existed tomorrow to enforce legal rights, marriage would still exist.



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