Washington Catholic Bishop Joseph Tyson: Gay Marriage Will ‘Endanger Religious Liberty’

Bishop Joseph Tyson, the Catholic bishop of Yakima, Washington, published a pastoral letter on Saturday on the Diocese website attacking Referendum 74, the ballot measure which if approved would put the state's legislatively-passed marriage equality law into effect.

WAIn the letter, Tyson pleads, "Consider what kind of picture of marriage you desire to give the next generation.  If you and I don’t uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman, who will?  If we are intimidated by those supporting marriage redefinition who picket and threaten donation boycotts of our charity and our ministry, then who will proclaim the true meaning of marriage?"

TysonHere's part of Tyson's letter:

We must also understand another tragic consequence. R-74
jeopardizes freedom rather than expands it. It endangers our
religious liberty and the right of conscience. Once marriage is
redefined as a genderless contract, it will become legally
discriminatory for public and private institutions such as schools
to promote the unique meaning of marriage, and to teach about
the right of a child to be known, loved and raised by his or her
own mother and father in a stable home. This law will challenge
our right to educate about the unique value of children being
raised by their own mothers and fathers. No institution or
individual could propose that married mothers and fathers
provide a singular benefit to children without being accused of

This is not an idle concern. Recent attacks on churches,
businesses and nonprofit organizations that express their
conscientious objection to the redefinition of marriage underscore
this danger. Those who uphold families based on the permanent,
faithful relationship between a married man and woman as the
best environment for raising children already have been accused
of hate speech, and the right of religious institutions to freely
practice their faith has been abridged. The acceptance of R-74
means that so-called same-sex “marriage” will replace real
marriage – the union of a man and a woman – as the legal frame
of reference for all public discourse. The terms “husband and
wife” and “father and mother” will continue to recede as so-called
gender-neutral terms overwhelm our public lexicon.

Let us not allow ourselves or others to be fooled by false
reasoning. Protecting the definition of marriage as the union of
“discriminatory.” It recognizes marriage between one man and
one woman to be unique – unique among all other kinds of
human relationships. Although our surrounding popular culture
may define human identity by the terms “gay” and “straight,” our
Church has a deeper and more accurate understanding of human
identity based on male and female – sexual difference. It is within
this identity that each one of us is called as a son or daughter of
God. It is also within this identity of the human person as male
and female that the meaning of marriage is discovered. Marriage
is founded on sexual difference and ordered toward the good of
husband and wife and the procreation and rearing of children.

Read Tyson's full letter HERE.

The SeattlePI reports:

A pro-Referendum 74 group, Catholics for Marriage Equality, delivered a sharp rejoinder to Tyson and his fellow bishops in the Archdiocese of Seattle and the Diocese of Spokane, who have issued letters and videos opposing marriage equality.

“We are shocked when we read the language and examples used by our bishops to incite fear in our Catholic brothers and sisters if Referendum 74 passes:  The message of Jesus is love and compassion, not fear,” said Kirby Brown with Catholics for Marriage Equality Washington.


  1. Cody says

    Want to teach your own beliefs and nothing else? Then stop taking government money. As long as you’re doing that, you’re subject to government law. Get used to it

  2. Tim NC says

    Once again I ask….. How does allowing same-sex marriage stop opposite-sex couples from raising their own children?

    When a same-sex couple get married are they allowed to remove a child from a hetero couple to raise as their own? Is that what this guy is worried about? Does he think that same-sex couples (the small percentage that actually have children, about 20%) get their children by stealing them from happily married hetero couples?

  3. HadenoughBS says

    These minions of the Papist God-figure in Vatican City are NOT Christians – they’re evil acolytes of Satan who spread anti-Christian teachings cloaked in their twisted version of Christ’s love. They should be ignored, at the least, and taxed by the government, at the most, for their “constant politicking” from the pulpit. To Hell with them and their bigoted policies.

  4. says

    He’s just upset because the more that homosexuality is understood and accepted the harder it will be for guys like him to prey on the young.

    And btw, catholics trying to stop non-catholics from marrying is an endangerment of “religious liberty”.

    Why does anything the Catholic Church say or do have relevance? I don’t know any gay catholics who want to get married in a catholic church, and the only Christian-identifying gays that I know who want to marry are going to get married, you know, in their own churches that already support equality and marriage for LGBT people.

    it’s a non-freakin’-issue.

    what next, gentiles eating bacon is a threat to Judaism?

  5. gr8guya says

    At what point should churches lose their tax-exempt status?

    They are taking a stand on a political issue and acting as a political support organization. If they want to maintain their tax status, they should not be allowed to practice political advocacy. Either that or willingly lose their tax status and be free to act like any other political organization.

    Why are my tax dollars going to support this?

  6. Mike says

    I completely agree with the bishop in this case. My religion preaches that it is our duty to burn witches, heretics and unbelievers at the stake. But big government says that’s illegal. Don’t they know our founding fathers fought a revolution so that organized religion could set the rules that govern our society? If I can’t burn heretics, my religious liberty is infringed.

  7. Leslie says

    “endangers religious freedom” ?!

    “the right of a child to be known, loved and raised by his or her own mother and father in a stable home” ?!

    Where is the catholic church trying to put into state constitutions a ban on divorce? spouse & child abuse? dead-beat moms and dads? second-third-fourth marriages and step-children? Where is the catholic church trying to enact laws for a means-test for financial-home stability for any couple planning on having children? more children?

    Want to guarantee religious freedom? Mind your own Business. That’s Business with a capital “B”. And it’s sacred. “BS”

  8. Bob says

    Religion has endangered the lives of countless millions of people who did not agree with or go along with their madness, in fact it has done more than endanger countless millions of people, men, women and children, it has murdered them in the name of the Christian Religion.

  9. macmantoo says

    Let’s face it, the reason why the Catholic Church or any church doesn’t want gays to marry is they have nothing to hold over the people’s head. When people find out that the rapture won’t happen because gays are married they won’t believe the garbage they preach every week.

    The Catholic Church is like the Republican Party, they have to use scare tactics to keep the minions in line.

  10. Robert says

    If it endangers your religious liberty, all the better! You’ve got too much liberty given, criminal amounts. This is not a country founded upon your stupid beliefs, but that of free and individual thinkers wishing to have a say in the governing of their lives. Your delusion that you get a say in how I live and what I choose to do is the exact thing our ancestors fought to overthrow! If you don’t like it, too bad, cry all you want, it’s your right. Just like it’s my right to say ‘shut the hell up!’

  11. Bob says

    LET’S UNDERSTAND THE REASON….. That church is based on PROCREATION, thus they fight contraception and abortion. The only procreation they want is WITHIN A MARRIAGE THAT PRODUCES CATHOLIC BABIES.
    All the arguing with them about right and wrong and fairness is stupid and a waste of time.

  12. john patrick says

    It’s tiresome to hear RC bishops drone on about “religious freedom.” They wouldn’t know religious freedom if it bit them in the ass. To them, religious freedom is their license to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else: to hell with the religious freedoms of individual people, and to hell with religious freedom of other churches to solemnize legal same sex marriages, and to hell with women or men who want access to birth control through their insurance. And they do say that people who don’t do what they tell them to do will go to hell.

  13. The Inveterate Lurker says

    I almost soiled my panties when I first read the headline and thought it said “Washington Catholic Bishop Joseph Tyson: Gay Marriage Will ‘ENGENDER Religious Liberty'”.

  14. Randal Oulton says

    Arguments in a similar (vacuous) tone — that allowing someone else equal rights would diminish ours — were used in England for about 350 years to justify not letting Catholics vote or hold office.

    The Catholic church either has a short memory, or doesn’t understand the word irony, or sees nothing wrong with turning around and trying to repress others as it was repressed.

    And as for religious freedom, if the Catholic Church held all the cards, ask the souls of the tens upon tens of thousands of people that the church murdered during the various inquisitions.

  15. andrew says

    I have even heard, from reliable sources, that gay marriages will greatly increase global warming and cause the seas to rise higher and higher. Where is Noah? We are going to need his HELP!!! HELP!!! HELP!!!

  16. millerbeach says

    What about MY religious freedom? Mine has been taken away ever since the Catholic Church has gone on this weird rant against gay marriage. You know what, I’ve written the American Catholic Church leaders and my own Bishop, none of them answer my questions. So, I stopped giving money, at least until after the general election. I ask them, point-blank, that they want me to vote for a known heretic? They all fall silent. They know in their hearts they are betraying the beliefs of Jesus Christ. He is the reason I am in church, NOT because of some stupid politician. I also ask them how the pedophile priest problem is being solved…again, I am met with silence. As long as I am met with silence, the money stays in my pocket. Soon, very soon, they WILL get MY message.

  17. Diogenes Arktos says

    Usually, I read the full text; this time I couldn’t bring myself to. Just what does he know (assuming his vow of celibacy) about heterosexual sex and procreation?

    “[M]arried mothers and fathers provide a singular benefit to children…”
    In his idealized world, perhaps.

    “Recent attacks on churches, businesses and nonprofit organizations that express their conscientious objection to the redefinition of marriage…”
    I sincerely hope that with the exception of a few loonies, our side has always followed the lead of the SPLC: if you preach hate, you get listed as being hateful, and not because you differ on marriage equality. I’m not surprised he’s lying. He has to.

    I’m sure, moreover, he doesn’t know enough about history to know that marriage *has* been redefinied throughout history. Rome delights in rewriting history. (sigh)

    @MillerBeach: from your mouth to God’s ears. I’m not holding my breath.

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