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




  • Larry

    I just don’t get it: the two religions with the strictest rules for a church wedding (Catholicism and Mormonism) are leading the fight against CIVIL marriage equality. You already have your institutional barriers in place to assure only believers receive what you both believe to be “true” marriage. Why you are concerned that some folks (yes, a “small minority”, but still tens of millions of citizens) have the opportunity for civil marriage is beyond me.

    I think it’s simply the machinations of a group that has spent the last centuries becoming increasingly less powerful and increasingly less relevant. It’s gotta hurt the very human ego at the core of you all.

    • Tom


      You’re right about one thing: you don’t get it. Otherwise you wouldn’t use the phrase “marriage equality,” which in reality is just a shallow effort to gain public support through emotional propaganda. (“Gee…who could be against EQUALITY?”) “Marriage equality” makes about as much sense as insisting that squares have the right to be called four-sided triangles based on “shape equality.” It doesn’t work that way. Re-defining things like that doesn’t change the reality, it just causes confusion about what the reality is. Marriage is a two-in-one-flesh union that is only possible between a man and a woman due to their complementary sexes. As three sides are essential to a triangle, so the union of one male and one female is essential to marriage. That complementary union of maleness and femaleness is reflected in a bodily way in sexual intercourse between a man and woman. Male and female bodies connect in a way two male bodies or two female bodies do not, with potential consequences (children) that are not possible in sexual acts between two males or two females. It’s that simple.

      • SearchCz


        You’re not really suggesting that marriage can only exist between people whose “bodies connect in a way two male bodies or two female bodies do not, with potential consequences (children) that are not possible in sexual acts between two males or two females. It’s that simple.”

        Certainly you know that marriage is permitted even when one or both parties is infertile, or past the age of child bearing. Are couples such as these “married” ?

        You may also be aware that the vast majority of couples take specific measures to make sure that “potential consequences (children)” are NOT a possible outcome of their connection. Are these kinds of couples “married” ?

        And, this last note may shock you … male and female bodies can “connect” in more than one way, some of which are virtually identical to how two males or two females would “connect”. Shall we declare these couples unmarried, since they’ve chosen an intimacy that lacks the “potential consequences (children)” that you claim constitutes the essence of marriage?

        • Tom


          Let me try to address each of your points.

          1. Yes, husbands and wives who have been rendered infertile due to defect or age nevertheless have a marriage because the union of maleness and femaleness exists. You’re confusing the essence of the thing with the operation of one of its natural effects. To offer an analogy—-and it’s not a perfect one—-the essence of an eye is to see and the effect of its natural operation is vision. A man’s eye remains an eye even if a cataract prevents further vision. The essence of marriage is the conjoining of maleness and femaleness in a two-in-one-flesh union. That marital conjoining is reflected bodily in the act of sexual intercourse. An infertile heterosexual couple achieves that bodily union even if they can never conceive or if they no longer can conceive. Regardless of the actual outcome of their intercourse (i.e., conception or not), the husband and wife’s two-in-one-flesh union remains a bodily reflection of the conjoining of maleness and femaleness that is the essence of marriage and is only possible between one man and one woman.

          2. Yes, I’m aware that a man and a woman can engage in anal or oral sex. And while they may find that pleasurable, it isn’t an expression of their marital union. Try this mental exercise to emphasize the point. Imagine a woman and man who get married and, on their wedding night, the husband announces that he has no intention, nor did he ever have any intention, to engage in vaginal sexual intercourse with his wife. Instead, he announces to her that he will only have anal or oral sex with her so long as they are together. Quite intuitively, most rational people would see something wrong there. And, in fact, in that instance, there would be no marriage at all, since there was never an intention to be joined they way a husband and wife are uniquely joined—-in a “conjugal” union. To employ even older language, we might say the marriage was not “consummated.” Due to the lack of complementarity between their bodies, two men and two women cannot form a conjugal union, nor is there any union of their maleness and femaleness to consummate with the conjoining of their bodies. Indeed, oral or anal sex cannot “consummate” a marriage because there is no true conjugal union reflected in those acts.

          3. Finally, you correctly pointed out that many married couples intentionally sterilize themselves by using artificial contraception. Artificial contraception does an injustice to the marital union and, in some instances, could prevent the union from forming at all. However, the fact that some heterosexual couples intentionally destroy the natural potential for the life-engendering aspect of their conjugal union doesn’t change the fact that two men and two women can never form a conjugal union in the first place. That argument is a non sequitur and really just employs the tu toque fallacy.

          • SearchCz


            I respect your idea of marriage, but I think your response misses my point. IF the law DID require couples to engage in the variety of “conjugal” union you favor, that MIGHT be a valid reason to without the marriage option from same-sex couples. But it doesn’t … society permits and recognizes unions of couples that are not capable of completing this physical act. Why do you think that is? I think its because marriage provides such an array of benefits to the couple, and to their communities. To maintain that this should only be available to hetero couples BECAUSE of their essential maleness & femaleness isn’t logic or reasoning, its merely circuitous repitition.

          • Tom

            SearchCz, Thank you for your polite discourse and expression of respect for my ideas even though you disagree with them. I respect you in return. I don’t think I missed your point. You’re incorrect about ‘society’ not requiring the act of physical union of husband and wife (or consummation) in order to form a marriage. Willful failure or refusal to ‘consummate’ the marriage remains widely accepted as grounds for a declaration of nullity (i.e., a declaration that a marriage never existed). But even if ‘the law’ didn’t generally require that (which it does in most jurisdictions), that wouldn’t change the nature of marriage, since marriage isn’t merely a creature of the law. Finally, I didn’t argue that the ‘array of benefits’ marriage affords should only be available to ‘hetero’ couples because of their maleness and femaleness. Rather, I argued that marriage only EXISTS where there is a conjoining of maleness and femaleness. I think you’re confusing the benefits the law attaches to marriage with marriage itself. The incidental benefits–inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, custody rights, tax benefits, etc.–can and do change, but they don’t create a marriage in themselves. Marriage is not the sum of the incidental benefits afforded to by law to those deemed married by law. Moreover, for the record I think that, as a matter of public policy, most of those incidental benefits SHOULD be afforded (and in most jurisdictions already are afforded) to gay and lesbian couples, not because they are married (which they can’t be) but on the basis of human dignity due human persons.

          • SearchCz

            Thanks for spelling that out – I understand where you are coming from much better now. Your statement that ‘marriage only EXISTS where there is a conjoining of maleness and femaleness’ seems like more of a position than an argument, which is fine. Seems more like a reason for your opinion or a statement of your belief than a rationale supporting that belief, but OK. I have a couple of questions for you, if you care to ponder them. 1) Is it possible for men who are not capable of ‘consummating’ to marry ? For example, if their espoused understands that the man is not physically capable, and they still wish to wed. Is that possible ? 2) Can a horse trailer be used for any other purpose than the conveyance of horses ? For example, do you think one could use it to transport zebras ?

          • Tom

            My statement is definitional, as the statement, “A triangle is a plane figure with three straight sides and three angles” is definitional. A definitional statement statement isn’t arbitrary; rather, it reflects a reality: that the essence of a triangle is that it is a figure with three straight sides and three angles. So it is with marriage. The essence of that relationship is found in its specific difference: the conjoining of maleness and femaleness in a permanent, exclusive, bodily, two-in-one-flesh union. We could get into the various public policy reasons why the state should uniquely support THAT relationship, but that’s a whole different ball of wax. To answer your questions: 1) Marriage is necessarily a bodily union between a male and a female. If a man had no penis at the time he wished to marry, for example, and thus he was antecedently and permanently incapable of performing the conjugal act necessary to consummate the marriage, he could not create a valid marriage. (I can’t envision another scenario where, ab initio, a man could not consummate the marriage, since there are medications that can help with most medical problems along those lines. Impotence subsequent to the consummation of the marriage would not affect the continuing existence of the marriage.) 2) Certainly a horse trailer may be used to carry zebras. (An aside: aren’t zebras a species of horse?) The issue is not one of use, but essence. I could agree with my family that, from now on, we will call our chairs ‘tables’ and eat off the chairs. Agreeing to call the chairs ‘tables’ and using them as ‘tables’ doesn’t turn the chairs into tables, it just turns us into fools who are sitting on the floor eating off our chairs.

          • SearchCz

            A horse is not the same thing as a zebra. You might casually call them “animal cousins” – as they are different species of the same genus. If you look up “horse trailer” you’ll find it definitions like “a towable vehicle for transporting horses”. But a “horse trailer” is just as well suited as a conveyance for zebras, donkeys, mules, maybe goats, zonkeys … One could certainly point to that “definitional statement” and insist that ONLY horses belong in a horse trailer, but THAT would be to ignore the essence of the thing. The essence, the “intrinsic nature or indispensable quality” of the trailer, has everything to do with the purpose it serves and almost nothing to do with the specific variety of animal for which that benefit is used. So when you look at the legal status of marriage … what it does for society and for the couple it unites … I think insisting marriage is ONLY MALE-FEMALE is about the same as insisting that the horse trailer is ONLY FOR HORSES. And, fyi, in most states, the legal status of (secular) marriage begins at the end of a ceremony (not at the moment of bodily union), and is not automatically forfeit if there is a failure to consummate. ( Grounds for divorce or annulment, maybe. )

          • Tom

            Analogies are always perilous in argumentation because they break down, but let me run (note I didn’t say ‘trot’) with yours for a minute. Your analogy might work if marriage were simply a vehicle for delivering benefits to whomever we might fit on the trailer. But this touches on a point proponents of traditional marriage often make. Once we reduce marriage to that vehicle by divorcing it from its essential purpose–conjoining one man and one woman in a permanent, exclusive, faithful, bodily union–we no longer have a principled distinction for delineating who can and can’t hop on the trailer. As you say, the trailer certainly could be used for donkeys, mules, etc. It could also be used for sheep and goats. So, in extending the analogy to marriage, why not two men and a woman who are bi-sexual and declare their love for one another? Certainly we can fit three people on the trailer. Why not several people in a polyamorous relationship? We could fit four or five on the trailer. Why not two dear friends who vow to stay friends the rest of their lives and desire to live together for their happiness? They could fit. Why not a group of nuns who run an orphanage? They are committed to one another, live together, and take care of children, just like married couples do. Surely they could use the benefits. There is no principled reason for kicking any of them off the trailer. However, as discussed above, marriage isn’t just a vehicle for delivering a bundle of benefits. It is the reality of a conjugal union. The trailer of marriage has a hitch with a unique fitting for a reason: that fitting only couples the femaleness of one woman and the maleness of one man, and (not coincidentally) only that coupling has the natural, inherent potential for generating life. And that’s really the only reason the state has any interest in licensing the trailer in the first place. I think perhaps we’ve run our course in this discussion. I’ve appreciated your thoughtfulness and courtesy. If nothing more, we can come away from the discussion with a better understanding of each other’s position. I wish you well.

          • SearchCz

            You ask: why not a group of friends or two men and a woman? Because even though marriage is a metaphysical thing, it does have a “size” – and these combinations could not fit. The myriad laws pertaining to marriage fit 2 people, not 3 or 30. And none of those laws have to change in order to accommodate M-M or F-F unions. Couples who are M-F, M-M or F-F all have the capacity to unite their lives, their families, their assets and even their bodies. The stability of family for these couples provides society with similar benefit, regardless of their gender. And on that note I’ll thank you for the civil discussion and wish yo all the best as well. Go with God !

  • Manuel Little

    Those who seek to grant civil marriage to same-sex couples are harming society. They yell they are harmed, but ‘harm’ means they could sue anyone for harming them. How is anyone harming them? No one is, but they decide they are being harmed and that’s enough for them.

    Yes, one can sue anyone for ‘harm’, but you have to have a legal basis to sue someone for ‘harm’, otherwise you cannot use. All you can do is complain. And complain – you have a right to complain and go ahead as much as you want. It doesn’t matter, not legally. What damages can you show, legally speaking? None? That’s what i thought.

    This is about a minority trying to take away my right to vote my value system. Go ahead and try, because i won’t give up my right to vote. And i will vote against same-sex civil marriage, simply because it is a CIVIL, not a religious, matter. Because it is a civil matter, then i can vote against it, and explain why i vote that way to my friends and acquaintances.

    The activists who want to impose same-sex marriage on the USA, State by State, are losing the confrontation. More and more States define marriage, not as whatever, but as composed by 1 man and 1 woman, adults, by consent (and no consent needed from anyone else). In the case of 2 minors of age such that they can marry, the permission of the parent or guardian is required. Closely blood-related pairs cannot marry in some States. Friendships, in general, cannot marry unless they are of opposite sex. There’s very good reasons for that to be the law. Laws are not made on the basis of sympathy. There have to be very, very good reasons, or the opposite bill would be pushed through a legislature to void the first.

    I will not give up my right to vote my value system, as everyone does, and i will vote always that marriage is well defined as between 1 man and 1 woman. Don’t like it? Too bad. Laws are not made according to who gets offended the most, or the least. Anyone can get offended by the most trivial concern. So what. Grow up, friendships.

    • SearchCz


      You say that there are very good reasons why marriage is not available to some people (minors, close blood relatives, etc.). Can you please provide ANY good reasons why it should exclude same-sex couples? I would like to see some of those good reasons what same-sex couples should not have the option of accepting the legal obligations and rights that opposite-sex couples can.

      Also, I’m very interested in hearing more about these states where same-sex marriage is being imposed. Makes it sound like people are being forced to marry somebody of the same sex … which I think is plain wrong!

      Laws ought to be made to protect our freedoms … at least according to the declaration of independence.

  • James

    Your efforts DO harm gay couples and their families. The fact of the matter is that there are thousands of gay couples already married. NOM and their supporters would strip these families of any and all legal protections … a state-mandated divorce if you will. Why? Well, personal dislike of gays (given a certain air of legitimacy with the use of religious vernacular).

    How do we know? Well, NOM was quite willing to support the Presidential campaign of a serial adulterer who broke his marriage vows not once but at least twice (that we know of). When was the last time you heard a NOM supporter suggest we should “protect marriage” by making divorce more difficult to obtain? I haven’t. It’s not even on NOM’s radar.

    You tell me what would happen to the marriages of your heterosexual friends and family members if the state revoked their marriage licenses. If it would cause a measurable degree of harm, then I’d say Rep Pederson was correct. If it would mean nothing, well … then I’d wonder why you were fighting gay marriage so intently when it meant so little to begin with ..

  • John Talbott

    Once again a radical social activist belonging to a small minority of citizens in the United States and internationally is attempting to reconstruct society to their image and likeness. Our Societal mix is made up of people having a large variety of differences. Recognizing those differences by making them individually the law of the land is distructive to the overall foundational principles of our United States of America. As soon as the legislation in question is signed into Law by our esteemed Governor the Office of Public Instruction will begin the modification of State Curriculm which will become mandatory for all schools in the State. It is not a short term goal that this small minority is after, it is the long term goal of seeking to gain acceptance of a life style that for milleniums has been a personal choice rather than one mandated by law.

    • Deb

      John, your small minority is conservatively 10,500,000 flesh-and-blood human beings, with real lives, real dreams, real emotion. That you would happily tell them “no, you cannot have what I can” is disgusting.

  • DanB

    Good for him! Hopefully within 10 years we’ll be at a point where we can start having serious discussions about revoking the tax exempt status of churches. This is the price you pay for rejecting the teachings of Jesus and trying to turn a profit in the world of political maneuvering. Suck it, papists!



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