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Friday, May 26, 2006


Posted by on May 26 at 13:13 PM

A few final points about Weaselgate

The Stranger was accused—or I was accused—of making a mountain out of a molehill when I wrote a quick Slog post on Sunday about Jamie Pedersen’s dishonest support-marriage-equality-then-support-me pitch. (I felt it was dishonest because everyone running in the 43rd supports gay marriage—seems like a pretty straightforward point to to me.) This morning The Seattle Post-Intelligencer put Chris McGann’s Weaselgate story on their front freakin’ page. So, um, who’s making mountains out of molehills now?

I’d also like to address this issue, raised in the PI’s story and by a Pedersen supporter in a comment thread on Slog:

The truth comes out (pardon the expression). Looks like Dan’s giant ego got hurt by lil’ ol’ Jamie Pederson: “[Dan Savage] admitted some past animosity because Pedersen had been quoted saying Savage was the wrong public face for the gay marriage issue, but said that exchange had nothing to do with his blog entry.”

If the Pedersen Rimjob Brigade wants to make his statements to The Seattle Times in March of 2004 the issue, hey, that’s fine with me. Because Pedersen’s comments in that piece only support my original contention—namely, that Pedersen is something of a weasel.

Here’s the story, and here are relevant bits from the Bob Young’s piece—and when you’re reading, remember that when it says “advocates,” it means Pedersen, the only “advocate” Young quotes in his story:

Officials worried gay editor would beat them to court

Blame it on Dan Savage.

To some degree, it was Savage, editor of The Stranger, a Seattle weekly newspaper, who pushed local gay-rights groups and King County Executive Ron Sims to challenge the state law prohibiting gay marriage yesterday.

That’s because advocates and Sims were worried Savage would file a lawsuit challenging the state law before their own hand-picked gay couples did, thereby undermining an effort to use the most sympathetic local gays to test the legal waters…. Ideally, those [gay couples] would be stable, longtime gay couples, preferably with children…

Enter Savage.

Friday, Savage visited the King County office that issues marriage licenses. With him was Amy Jenniges, a reporter from The Stranger, and her lesbian partner.

Both Jenniges and Savage, who is gay, were refused licenses to marry their respective same-sex partners. What they might do next worried gay-rights advocates and Sims, who soon learned of Savage’s visit….

“No offense to Dan, he is a very important voice. But what lawyers look for are people who want to achieve the ends of the lawsuit but don’t have a different agenda. Dan has a newspaper. He has an interest in publicity,” said [Jamie] Pedersen.

Here’s the funny thing about Pedersen’s comments to the Seattle Times: I never had any intention of filing a lawsuit. I applied for a marriage license with Amy Jenniges, a lesbian co-worker, to make a point—and only to make a point—and the point was this: It’s fucked up in the extreme that a big fag like me can enter into a sham marriage with a lesbian I don’t love, don’t live with, don’t have sex with, and don’t have a kid with. How does that protect the sanctity of marriage exactly? Here’s the story I wrote about it for the Stranger. It was a stunt—a stunt that demonstrated the utter ridiculousness of gay marriage bans. KOMO News—and other media—got the point I was trying to make:

They married to prove a point. They hope lawmakers will notice their stunt and realize the reason why two people get married should be more important than their gender.

But what did Pedersen tell the Times? Not that I was the “wrong public face for the gay marriage issue,” as the PI put it this morning, but that I was going to file a lawsuit and that this was hugely problematic because I wouldn’t be a good test case—you know, since I don’t have a kid and I’m not in a long-term relationship. And why was I going to do this? According to Pedersen, I was rushing to the courthouse because I had “an interest in publicity.” Since I wasn’t a good test case, my vanity lawsuit—which existed only in Pedersen’s imagination—was likely to fail. But I was, according to Pedersen, willing to risk blowing gay marriage rights for all gay couples in Washington State just to quench my feverish thirst for publicity.

None of this was true—hell, Pedersen’s statements were borderline slanderous. Maybe if I had sued him then I wouldn’t have to clarify this now.

So Pedersen did to me in 2004 exactly what he did to his opponents in the 43rd District race last weekend: He misrepresented my position and my intentions. Perhaps he did it out of simple carelessness, not malice, but what does that tell us about Pedersen? This may have happened a while ago, but it was long after the invention of the telegraph, telephone, and email. If Pedersen was curious about my intentions, he should have called and asked me what I was up to before he made baseless accusations to the Seattle Times, dismissed my relationship, disappeared my child, and accused me of risking the rights of all other gay couples in Washington state. (That goes for you too, Ron Sims.)

If carelessness is a quality that 43rd district Dems are looking for in their state rep—it’s a bad trait in a politician—then it looks like Pedersen’s our man. But if support for gay marriage is what we want, then we have six candidates to choose from—again, they all support gay marriage. The seat Ed Murray’s is vacating isn’t a gay seat, and there are three other gay men—Dave Upthegrove, Joe McDermott, and Jim Moeller—in the House. Perhaps we should look at what distinguishes the six candidates in the 43rd from each other, not the issues on which they’re all in agreement.

There you have it, folks. The reason why Pedersen’s weasel move against his opponents jumped out at me last Sunday: It was dĂ©jĂ  vu all over again.

CommentsRSS icon

The perfect-plaintiff aspect of the legal strategy in the statewide gay marriage case has always been irksome. It seems to imply that the relationship of, say, happy ol' church-going lesbians in their 50s with an adopted daughter is somehow more valid or deserving of protection than, say, the two-year-old childless pairing of a couple sexy twentysomething hipster gayboys in their late 20s. The presumption that same-sex relationships need to be packaged carefully for straight consumption is not only insulting to those who don't meet the perfect-plaintiff standard, but also to the intelligence of straight Washingtonians, many of whom, believe it or not, get the concept already that same-sex relationships are as diverse as straight ones, and still believe they all deserve legal protection.

Sadly, Brad, the reality is that a pair of harmless looking lesbians with a daughter are likelier to win a case than, say, a dangerous sex-advice columnist and his hipster boyfriend—regardless of how long they've been together, kids, etc.

I recognize that reality—it's one of the reasons that, despite my desire to be legally married and feeling just as entitled to marriage as any safe-seeming lesbian couple (they could have a dungeon in their basement, for all anyone in court could tell), I would never volunteer to be a test case or run out and file a lawsuit on my own behalf.

I'm not entirely sure I agree, Dan. Despite your tendency to be, uh, a tad controversial, you're a published author, nationally syndicated columnist, editor of a publication with dozens of employees in your charge, and one half of a quite long-term relationship - and a father. I think you'd make a great plaintiff. Any judge's ruling that tried to invalidate your claim to equal marriage rights on the basis of what you personally write about in your column would just be begging to be overturned. And none of this was ever about impressing a jury - the case was not a jury trial. It was presided over by superior court judges in, if I'm not mistaken, King and Thurston counties prior to its consolidation into a single case - kind of the sweet spot for your readership, don't you think?

Perhaps, but—and this is part of what makes Pedersen's statements to the Times way, way, way back when so maddening—I wouldn't risk making myself a test case, Brad, on the off-chance that my profession or some of the things I've written about, oh, the importance of monogamy (I don't think it's that important) were brought up. I'd rather let the safe lesbians win marriage rights for all of us.

Oh, and here's a hilarious detail: Pedersen was involved with Lambda Legal at the time. I send them a big check every year—and the party that Amy Jenniges and I had to celebrate our wedding? It was a benefit... for Lambda Legal.

Singer vs. Hara (1972) was brought by two roommates who basically wanted to fuck with the system.

Not that the case would have went well even with ideal plaintiffs (i.e., who really wanted to be married), but it still set the bad precedent we live with today.

Dan nails it:

"The seat Ed Murray’s is vacating isn’t a gay seat, and there are three other gay men—Dave Upthegrove, Joe McDermott, and Jim Moeller—in the House. Perhaps we should look at what distinguishes the six candidates in the 43rd from each other, not the issues on which they’re all in agreement."

It's a good bunch of candidates,and the 43rd is fortunate that there are so many.

But when all is said and done, the candidate with the best knowledge of the District and its needs, the most experienced, and the one most ready to represent the District at the same level as Frank Chopp and Ed Murray do, is Dick Kelley.


You make the following statement: "But what did Pedersen tell the Times? Not that I was the “wrong public face for the gay marriage issue,” as the PI put it this morning, but that I was going to file a lawsuit and that this was hugely problematic because I wouldn’t be a good test case—you know, since I don’t have a kid and I’m not in a long-term relationship."

I can't find that anywhere in the article. What I read is "advocates and Sims were worried Savage would file a lawsuit challenging the state law before their own hand-picked gay couples did, thereby undermining an effort to use the most sympathetic local gays to test the legal waters." This does not seem to be Pedersen's wording, but that of the article's author, Bob Young.

In your previous post you indicated that Pedersen had said something awful about you and your family. The quote I read in the Times is as follows: "No offense to Dan, he is a very important voice. But what lawyers look for are people who want to achieve the ends of the lawsuit but don't have a different agenda. Dan has a newspaper. He has an interest in publicity," said Pedersen.

Also, "There was always that concern that a case would be brought," she said, "and Executive Sims' thinking was that the best possible case should be brought forward to question the law." This would indicate that not only was Pedersen worried you would bring a lawsuit, but that other were, as well.

The point is that I don't find the article all that slanderous, and if you have issue, it should be with Bob Young. You gotta admit, you are outspoken and a tad bit unpredictable (this same article reports you "infiltrated Republican Gary Bauer's presidential campaign in Iowa. He licked doorknobs, coffee cups and ink pens in an unsuccessful attempt to infect Bauer with the flu"). If Pedersen and others, who had been working on this case for a long time, thought that their efforts might be thwarted by a journalist known for being outspoken, and at times, outlandish, I think they had that right. I'm not convinced that he slandered you. I am, however, convinced that you went over the top with your criticism, and threw some dirty punches.

Ivan is right:

This is not the pre-determined "gay seat". there will be three other homos in the House not to mention ED MURRAY, the gay powerhouse, is moving to the SENATE to get things done.

the seat should go to whomever is the most well-rounded and experienced candidate. jamie is a one-issue guy and let's face it, that issue is being well-covered.

Dan will seek inconsistencies in others, and get angry and act out about them, until the cows come home--even when he's in the grave, most probably. His reactions used to be fun but the pattern is old now--an exact replication every time. Good ol Dan!
With the perspective age brings, you might see the world as less immediately filled with enmity.
(I have no interest in Pedersen and support gay marriage and know it will happen in time, btw)


We love reading about your licking doorknobs, your phoney marriages, and all your publicity stunts.

Seattle would be really boring without you Dan.

Seattle (heart) Dan.

Keep giving them hell no matter what they write about you. Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Get rid of Jamie so we can defeat this gay marriage nonsense.

Pederson seems pretty ham-handed in his approach to all this. He's trying to become the heir-apparent to Ed Murray when Ed isn't actually going anywhere; he's still gonna be the most senior gay legislator in the state.

ben is also right--
even if jamie were elected, he'd be a junior representative who has already marginalized himself as a one-issue voice.

his marginalization would make him ineffective -- and ineffectiveness in the 43rd representation is exactly why ed made his bid for the senate and gave up the seat in the first place. it would be a mistake to replace such a great, well-rounded legislator as ed with someone who resembles a shrill lap dog.

besides, half the gay state senators and gay state reps are GOP electeds.

its true. we have legislators like luke esser who are queer but vote against gay rights, among other things. did that question to the NY Times ethicist ever get answered, btw?

Dan, thanks for quoting me in a white block at the beginning of this blog entry. You sure are easy to rile (the "big fag" doth protest too much). I'm no Pedersen supporter, and you've helped prove my point that you'll consistently twist people's words to support your agenda and prop up your ego. I did think the "Petersen Rimjob Brigade" part was funny though...

Glad you liked the Rimjob joke, Emerson Death. But I didn't twist your word, I just lumped you in with the PRB. I would withdraw that crack—but it seems that you enjoyed it, so I'll leave it be.

Those silly-billies at the Times!

Dan, when are those people going to realize: you aren't some lawsuit-filing "activist" for God's sake, you're an ENTERTAINER. The biggest gosh-darn gay sex advice entertainer in all of Seattle, thank you very much!

I for one am sick of people taking Dan seriously, and The Stranger seriously for that matter. This is NOT where you go for news and serious talk, it's where you go for fun, frolics, and practical jokes!

So yay! funny Dan! Boo serious gay advocates! Enough serious talk already! Let's hear more about Sugar! Let's get back to what gay people do best: Par-tay!

Hey there, John Longenblah/Sam Chanderson. We've missed you.

I think the sole activist/ethical responsibility of an entertainer is to merely express their support concerning an issue, and encourage support from others. Nonprofit activist groups' biggest starting issue is often just getting the word out- but hey, tony nominees, syndicated columnists and MAWs can do it with little effort!

Dan Savage not interested in publicity?

No wonder you are outraged, Dan! Somebody is getting publicity saying you are interested in publicity? that's so unfair!

Why, that makes you mad enough to tell people you get drunk and then write slogs. Or tell people that you licked a door knob!

And aren't you protesting a bit much to say your "positions" were misrepresented? Or that no one one bothered to call you and check the facts. Sorry, Dan, but isn't that pretty much the daily style book for the Stranger -- burn 'em and mock 'em, and then repeat the attack when they complain.

Dan, your whole gig is to zap people and then hit 'em when they don't laugh it off and show what good sports they are. But when you are the subject, and take offense, the operating rules are much different. There's a word for you, Dan: hypocrite. If you dish it out, you've got to take it as well.

All that crap about the perfect paintiff is stupid.

Several suits were consolidated, anyone with some desire could have filed about the same time and asked for consolidation.

By the way - the combo of ACLU, Lamda Legal and Northwest Women's Law Center --- well if there is a better progressive legal team - backed by Preston Gates - if there is a better team than that - tell me about it.

Very pleased with the overall push and plan. Top drawer from start to almost finish.

Some people like to whine and whine - still not too late to send a brief, well maybe, but could be symbolic if folks feel left out.

I've missed you too, Dan! My heart just hasn't been the same since my hiatus.

Don't know about your John Longenblah sighting though. I've never met the man and don't want to. Plus he writes for the Seattle Weakly, which is stupid and filled with old people. Give me my fun-lovin' Dan and his Stranger friends any day over those retards!

If you'd REALLY like to know me, you big handsome gay editor guy, drop on by Victrola again! It's my favorite haunt, and my heart always skips a beat when you come in! I'll come over and heart you in public!

Nice that KOMO got what you were trying to do.

But you shouldn't have been trying to do it.

You're an editor, now. You're supposed to present the news, not become it.

I have a lot of respect for the work you've done, but I think you're having a hard time understanding that your role as an editor necessarily means less face time for you as an activist. If you don't want The Stranger's credibility to slip, you need to back off of your personal forays into newsmaking.

This doesn't mean changing the liberal slant of the paper. It does mean taking your own ego down a couple of notches. This isn't journalism, Dan, it's grandstanding. Knock it off.

Who's grandstanding? Dan Savage is not running for office. He has every right to question the credibility of a candidate whose volunteers insinuate that a vote for one of Jamie Pedersen's opponents is a vote against gay marriage. He has every right to question the motives of a candidate whose own quest for publicity around the issue of gay marriage makes him disparage Dan for attempting to draw attention to different aspects of the issue. Why should Dan (or anyone else) have to kowtow to the talking points and timeline of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund?

The issue is not Dan, however much of an annoying publicity whore he may be. The issue is Jamie Pedersen. This is the same Jamie Pedersen who pummeled me with requests to become his MySpace friend - presumably because I checked the "gay" and "Seattle" boxes in my profile - until I put Stephanie Pure in my "Top 8" friends.

Jamie Pedersen seems to assume that the gay community will collectively bend over for him because he's the only fag in the race. I hope more and more queer voters in the 43rd stand up to challenge this insulting assumption.

with all due respect--


This is SUCH a dull subject.

What happened to the FUN in all you people? I couldn't care less about local elections and did Dan mean this or did he do that.

I want my Dan back, my sweet fisting-loving-outrage-provoking-dress-wearing-"Hey Faggot!"-writing-gay icon!

Stop trying to make Dan political! He's not political! He's MUCH bigger than that!

He IS Seattle Alternative!

He IS Gay and Here to Stay!

He IS whom I Heart, with all of my...well, you get the idea.

See you at Victrola, cutie!

Of all the things Dan has devoted his time to, this seems the least honorable, entertaining, or even interesting.

THREE posts about something some volunteers spouted off at a street fair. And lots of covering his ass over some counter-criticism. ALL to make sure that Dan doesn't come away looking like the weasel, whiny-ass baby, overly-rimjobbed person he accuses Pedersen of being (which, in his thoughtful responses, Pedersen has effectively countered).

Way to sink to a new low, Dan.

I wonder if Jamie Pedersen has drones posting all these slanderous comments under the aliases.

Gomez! I'm shocked, SHOCKED that you would claim some people on this slog aren't posting with their real names!

Loved you in Adams Family II, by the way.

PS: all rumors that "Gomez" is an alias for Tim Keck are unfounded.

The ONLY reason this "incident" has been raised to front-page status in the P-I is because Dan and this blog have made such a big deal about it.

Once again, I would argue that the real news story here should be that candidates in a legislative race are falling all over themselves to declare how PRO-marriage equality they are.

THAT's news. Even though it's crazy, left-wing, 43rd District Seattle; it's a start.

Typical gay drama between two guys in the 43rd is NOT news; it's a common occurrence.

I'm with you Mickymse. This whole cat fight is just plain silly.

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