same-sex marriage in Australia
A rally for same-sex marriage in Sydney, May 31, 2015. A marriage equality bill is expected to be introduced by Australian Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, defining marriage as a "union of two people" rather than a "man and woman," following the overwhelming "yes" vote in the Irish referendum. Reuters/David Gray

An Australian couple is threatening to divorce if gay marriage is legalized. Nick Jensen has been married to his high school sweetheart Sarah for 10 years, but they may end their “sacred” union this year if Australia approves same-sex marriage.

Jensen, the director of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, wrote a piece for Canberra City News, explaining why it is imperative for him and his wife to take a drastic step if homosexuals are allowed to get married in the country. As the devout Christian reasoned, marriage is the union of a man and a woman in the sight of God. Any deviation from that would render the union meaningless.

When he and his wife signed a marriage certificate at Tuggeranong Baptist Church a decade ago, they thought the state was endorsing marriage as the “fundamental social institution.” But if Australia decides to let homosexuals enter the same union, it would change the definition of marriage, according to Jensen. And if that becomes the case, then they will no longer wish to be associated with the new description.

The Jensens will get divorce but still call each other “husband” and “wife,” he says. They will still live and raise their children together and will consider themselves married by the church and before God. They will also continue to have more children together. In other words, they will legally dissolve their marriage but will remain living as a married couple.

“Marriage is sacred, and what is truly ‘marriage’ will only ever be what it has always been,” Jensen wrote, adding that as a divorced but cohabiting couple, they will still benefit from the same tax and legal provision of de facto unions. He denied accusations that they are bigots or hateful, but they are just not able to partake in any change in the definition of marriage.

While there are some who applauded Jensen and his wife’s stance, there are commenters on social media who are either enraged or amused. The common sentiment online is the Jensens’ marriage should not be affected by any others’ legal union. A Facebook public event was even marked to celebrate the couple’s divorce should same-sex marriage be made into law in Australia.

As ABC News noted, however, Nick and Sarah Jensens’ plan to divorce will not be legal. As Jensen himself admitted, they will get divorced in name only.

According to Australia’s Family Law Act, an application for divorce is only considered if the parties are separated and have been living separately for at least 12 months. Family lawyer Denis Farrar said the court will only grant them divorce if there is no reasonable likelihood of cohabitation being resumed.

Undaunted by this legal fact, Jensen told ABC that they would fight for their right to dissolve their marriage. They are also focused on preventing gay marriage from becoming a law in the country.

“It’s not a protest in my eyes, we’re not just threatening to do this. It’s just something we’re explaining is the consequence of any change in legislation,” he said.