A married Christian couple who pledged to divorce if same sex marriage was legalised will not go ahead with it because it would require them to separate from one another.
Nick and Sarah Jensen, from Canberra, sparked controversy in 2015 when Mr Jensen announced they would end their decades-long legal union if same sex marriage was legalised.
When legalisation seemed much more likely in November, Mr Jensen said he would wait to see the letter of the law before making a decision.
And after Parliament finally passed the law to cheers on Thursday afternoon, Mr Jensen announced his position in a statement.
‘My previous public comments regarding civil divorce never envisaged me separating from my wife, but rather our marriage from the State,’ he wrote.
‘The legislation currently makes it untenable for us to do this under the law.
‘The point we were highlighting and that still stands however is the fact that a redefinition of marriage changes the agreement under which we were originally married.
‘We will be making no further comment’.
The couple’s initial announcement in 2015 raised questions about how they could get divorced if they weren’t planning to separate.
Under the Family Law Act, divorce in Australia requires a couple to satisfy a court they have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months and have no reasonable likelihood of resuming married life.
‘This has been a big decision for my wife and I,’ Mr Jensen once wrote for Canberra’s CityNews. ‘The truth is, “marriage” is simply too important…
‘It has always been understood to be that exclusive relationship where one man and one woman become “one flesh”.
‘Any attempt to change the definition of marriage by law is not something in which we are able to partake.’
Despite his fame, Mr Jensen – who previously worked for the Australian Christian Lobby – was not on the front lines of the No campaign.
‘Our situation is a bit of a unique one from the rest of the No campaigners,’he said.
‘In part, we’re affected if there is a bit of a change in law – I haven’t been out there on the front line campaigning.’
In his 2015 piece, Mr Jensen said he and his wife – ‘the only woman I have ever loved’ – will still live together and call each other ‘husband and wife’ – in the ‘eyes of God’.
But he wrote they would ‘refuse to recognise’ the government’s marriage regulations ‘if its definition includes the solemnisation of same sex couples’.
Mr Jensen’s column sparked such a reaction that more than 100,000 people signed up to attend a Facebook event, ‘Celebrating Nick and Sarah Jensen’s divorce’.
But his piece quickly led to questions about whether the couple could legally divorce without separating for the years – as is required by federal law.
Same-sex marriage will officially be legalised in Australia after both houses of Parliament voted in favour of the historic change.
The House of Representatives voted to pass same-sex marriage into law on Thursday afternoon after a months-long public debate that has created tension and division.
More than 7.8 million Australians – about 62 per cent of voters – gave their support to the reform in a voluntary postal survey.
The bill, which passed the Senate in late November, will now go to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove for royal assent. It will become law in days.