We have heard dire warnings from people in the US, even Republican presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, that they will defy any attempt to put same-sex marriage on a par with opposite-sex marriage. These warnings have come in anticipation that the US Supreme Court might rule this month that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
But these warnings have been vague about what they can actually do. The way marriage marriage licenses are issued vary from state to state and fall on local offices. I simply cannot see the governors of states or other supervisory bodies actually defying a Supreme Court ruling. The days when states defied Supreme Court orders to integrate schools, restaurants, and other public services, necessitating the calling out by the president of federal marshals to enforce the laws, seem long gone.
But now from Australia comes a suggestion as to a course of action. Australia has been surprisingly reactionary on the issue of same-sex marriage, with their parliament failing to pass measures allowing it, and one married couple has vowed to take action if parliament does change its mind.
A Canberra couple have vowed to get a divorce, ending their “sacred” 10-year union, if Australia allows same-sex couples to legally marry.
Nick Jensen and his wife Sarah believe widening the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples threatens the sacred nature of the union and leaves the door open to polygamy.
The Christian couple have been happily married for over a decade, have no intention of separating and hope to have more children. For all intents and purposes they have a healthy marriage.
Mr Jensen told Fairfax Media that he and his wife entered into their marriage “as a fundamental order of creation, part of God’s intimate story for human history, man and woman, for the sake of children, faithful and for life”.
“And so, if later on in the year the state does go ahead and changes the definition of marriage and changes the terms of that contract then we can no longer partake in that new definition unfortunately,” he said.
To be quite honest, I cannot quite see this catching on because it is not clear what this action achieves. Is it trying to make the point that marriage has to be either purely same-sex or purely opposite-sex and not both?
It is not at all clear that same-sex couples will care if opposite-sex couples divorce or not, just as right-minded opposite-sex couples do not see how allowing same-sex couples to marry affects them.
But as a grand but futile gesture of disapproval, you have to hand it to the Jensens. They have a winner.