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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Divorce, dog-whistling and marriage equality

In the wake of Ireland's historic referendum that gave the green light for marriage equality legislation, the spotlight is shining even brighter on similar legislation in Australia.

There are many who support the idea of allowing everyone the opportunity to marry the person of their dreams regardless of gender similarities. Not surprisingly, there are those who oppose marriage between people of the same gender. The reasons for this are usually centred in religion or just straight out abhorrence at the thought of gay sex. Funnily enough, marriage is more than sex.

Religion? Well, that's kind of a personal issue. If your religion of choice ... or more likely, your INTERPRETATION of your religion of choice opposes homosexuality then don't engage in homosexuality. However, don't force your religious views on others who are comfortable with their own religion, or lack thereof, and are even more comfortable reconciling their homosexuality with their religion. This may come as a shock, but there are Gay People who are also Christian People.

Some pastors have complained that they will be forced to officiate same-sex marriages if marriage equality legislation is passed. But the legislation can be written so that religious institutions are not forced to conduct services that conflict with their beliefs. Meanwhile, there are a number of Christian churches that are willing to host same-sex weddings.

And then there is the Cory Bernardi school of thought. The ultra-conservative Christian Senator from South Australia sincerely believes that marriage equality will lead to the legalisation of bestiality. It's a hell of a stretch to go from marrying two men or women in love to joining man and poodle in holy matrimony. Just because Dino the Doberman humps someone's leg doesn't mean he wants that someone to slip a ring on his paw or to even have a committed, monogamous relationship with that leg.

Preventing same-sex marriage doesn't stop people being gay. It just means they can have the same rights that heterosexuals have. Same-sex marriage won't destroy society, the institution of marriage or the family unit. So why the protests against it?

Now, I'm always bang up for a good protest. Hell, I've marched against the Gordon-below-Franklin Dam, the Falklands War, the Iraq War, the treatment of Australia's indigenous population and the persecution of asylum seekers and numerous other causes. I love a good protest. And they sometimes have the desired effect of either changing government policy, changing the minds of some in the community, drawing attention to an issue or sending a message.

So colour me pink when I read the protest against marriage equality that one couple in Canberra have proposed.

Nick Jensen, Director of the Lachlan Macquarie Internship and former Director of Leadership Development with the Australian Christian Lobby, and his wife Sarah, have declared that if same-sex marriage is legalised then they will divorce each other. One of their reasons is that they believe marriage is between a Man and a Woman (1), not between two men or two women.

I may have missed something in their logic, but surely divorce is a greater threat to marriage than ... well, more marriage. Just sayin'.

One of the things with protests as I mentioned earlier is the message being sent. The message being sent by the Jensens is that divorce is good, marriage is bad. Well, bad if the married couple bear the same basic genitalia as each other. Marriage is about love and commitment between two people and is not constrained to couples with disparate genitals.

Mr Jensen goes on to state that he and his wife will still live together after their divorce. Apart from the fact that for divorce to be legal the couple is required to NOT live together (hence: divorce), it also means that they are condoning living together outside of marriage. Some within Christian circles affectionately (or sometimes not so affectionately) refer to this as 'living in sin'.

When Mr Jensen found out that divorce laws may stymie his plans to divorce and continue living with his dearly beloved, he criticised the irony of the restrictions on divorce when the government is considering lifting restrictions on marriage (2). Hmmm ... is he saying that it should be easier to divorce when divorce is a bigger threat to marriage and to a stable home life for children?

So ... divorce is ok, living in sin is ok (if you're heterosexual).

I'm really not getting their message and I'm pretty certain most churches wouldn't preach it as gospel.

Mr Jensen feels that to change the legislation is a breach of contract because the law at the time of his wedding declared marriage to be between Man and Woman. Newsflash, but legislation gets amended or even revoked. Even laws that govern contracts get changed. Suck it up. That's how government works.

Mr Jensen headed his Op-Ed in the City News as 'Gay law change may force us to divorce'. No, no, no. Allowing marriage equality will not force anyone to divorce. That is a choice purely being made by Mr and Mrs Jensen as a stunt to draw attention to their antiquated beliefs.

He claims there are many Christians willing to divorce if same-sex marriages are legalised. I call 'bullshit'! No self-respecting Christian would divorce their partner to make such a pathetic political statement.

Nothing shows how much marriage is valued than getting a divorce.

This stunt cheapens the sanctity of marriage and uses it as a political tool of intolerance.

This stunt is just one in a long line of dog-whistling (sorry Cory) antics that extremist Christians use to shore up their intolerant and ignorant opinions. If you're opposed to same-sex marriage then say so, but don't drag divorce and dogs into the mix and expect to be taken seriously.

Marriage (gay or straight) is not a threat to marriage, the family unit or raising children. Divorce is.


1. City News, Nick Jensen, 'Gay law change may force us to divorce', 10 June 2015, Accessed 12 June 2015.

2. ABC, Jordan Hayne and Elise Pianegonda, 'Christian couple who vowed to divorce in face of same-sex marriage may face legal hurdle', 11 June 2015, Accessed 11 June 2015.


  1. This is a good example why religion and politics should be kept separate. ..we have way too many right wing fundamental christian politicians trying to impose thier beliefs on everyone

  2. If the two partners are not happy together then it is far more better to get separated by mutual consent instead of stretching that unhappy relationship for a long time with lot of daily basis problems & issues.