Meet The Couple Who Will Get Divorced If Marriage Equality Becomes Legal
"Once you change the meaning of marriage it becomes meaningless."
A Canberra couple say they are fully committed to getting divorced if marriage equality becomes legal in Australia.
Nick Jensen and his wife Sarah have been happily married for 10 years, but say marriage equality will fundamentally change the nature of the institution into something they don't want to be part of.
Writing for CityNews, Nick said marriage is "part of God's intimate story for human history."
"Marriage is the union of a man and a woman before a community in the sight of God. And the marriage of any couple is important to God regardless of whether that couple recognises God's involvement or authority in it."
"My wife and I, as a matter of conscience, refuse to recognise the government's regulation of marriage if its definition includes the solemnisation of same sex couples," he wrote.
Nick told BuzzFeed News that the government would be breaking a contract by passing a marriage equality law.
"For us, fundamentally, when we got married we signed a contract with the state and that contract was around the current definition of marriage and all the things that comes with it. Man and woman for life, for the sake of children.
"If it came to be that the definition of the contract was changed, the contract is now null and void."
Nick, who works for the Australian Christian Lobby's Lachlan Macquarie Internship, says marriage is the gift of the church, not the state.
"The reason the state is involved in marriage at all is mainly around property law and divorce courts," he told BuzzFeed News.
"The church was involved in marriage for 500–600 years before the state got involved. The church only said, 'We'll allow you to have this [marriage] as long as you uphold it.' If the state suddenly changes its definition, it suddenly changes the whole situation," he said.
Nick Jensen says marriage equality will have severe consequences for society.
"Once you change the meaning of marriage it becomes meaningless," he said. "It is going to affect things. You're going to see more kids growing up without their biological mother or father.
"There certainly will be consequences around religious freedom and freedom of conscience. It is going to be a huge issue, as we've seen in other countries. Businesses, the public service, wedding photographers. It's affecting a wide net and that's not really being talked about."
When asked if a wedding photographer could refuse to work at, for example, the wedding of an interracial couple if that violated the photographer's religious beliefs, Nick said freedom of conscience is a two-way street.
"I would flip it back around though," he said. "If you have a same-sex couple who run a bakery and the Westboro Baptist Church comes in and wants to bake a cake saying the most awful things possible, should they have to bake that? I don't think they should.
"I think they should have the freedom to say no if it's against their fundamental beliefs. Now if someone said no to an interracial wedding, do I think that's the right thing? No, not at all. But I think that you still have to respect that people are going to believe what they believe, and that they have a right to refuse service.
"I think that's probably a better society than the state coming in and telling people to believe what they have to believe."
With marriage equality legislation set to come before parliament by the end of the year, Nick is adamant that he will follow through on his plans to divorce.
"We've made the decision. We're hoping to never have to do that, [but] that is what we'd do," he said.
But Nick remains hopeful that the momentum for marriage equality can be held at bay and he won't need to get divorced.
"I really think the tide is turning on this one. It's far from inevitable. If a number of things hold then we won't be in this situation [with legislation before parliament] again for a number of years. So hopefully not, but that's the reason I've written this article."