QUEER VOICES

A Gay Dad's Letter To Aussie Couple That Vowed To Divorce If Gay Marriage Becomes Legal

06/17/2015 10:19 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
Joe Raedle via Getty Images

By Rob Watson | The Next Family

Something one learns as a parent is that children are often not rational in their behavior. When something happens that is not to their liking, they will strike out in a variety of fashions, many of which do not line up to a logical agenda of self-interest. Part of the challenge of parenting, in such situations, is to show them how by reacting differently they can make the situation better, not just for themselves, but for others.

Conservatives worldwide apparently need such a parental voice at times to help them see the same thing. A year and a half ago a young man in Utah proclaimed he would starve to death if Utah allowed same sex marriages to take place. I wrote a letter to him in an effort to show him that his actions were not heroic, they were immature. Same sex marriage became legal in Utah, and he avoided starvation.

Now a couple in Australia is doing their own version of a kid rant over same sex marriage. Nick and Sarah Jensen have declared that should Australia recognize same sex marriages, they will get a divorce. Nick states they married “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 speaks of a “contract” that they had with the state which would guarantee marriage defined as being only between a man and a woman forever.

Of course, no such contract exists.

As a dad, this scenario is all too familiar. My sons were both adopted through foster care and are only four months apart in age. We call them “almost twins” reflecting that in many ways, they have achieved a bond that I have only seen in biologically born twins.

My son Jesse has always been the one to lead in their game playing. When they were about 6 years old, Jesse would create card games to play. After a while, Jason would become very frustrated and I would have to intercede. It was not difficult to see the cause of their conflict — the cards and rules of the game were literally stacked against Jason. As they were explained to me, I could see that the rules would only lead to the point where Jesse would win.

So I made him change the rules. As soon as that happened, Jesse, who is a bright kid, could see that things were not exclusive to him anymore and he immediately….quit. “I don’t want to play anymore,” he would bellow, and mind-bogglingly declare, “It’s not FAIR.”

The Jensens are having a similar meltdown. They see that the rules which favor only them are changing, and therefore, they want to — quit. I have written them a letter.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jensen,

I was sad to hear of your decision to divorce should same sex marriage become legal in Australia. It is indeed distressing that you would throw something away so cavalierly that others have worked so hard to try to achieve.

I kind of get it. You had something that you felt held you above others, and made you feel special and a bit elite. That really was not the case. Here in the US they allow convicted murderers to marry from prison, even ones who have slaughtered their families like the Menendez brothers. Those who are allowed to marry are not really as holy or special as you seem to regard. In any case, they do seem to be ranked, in your opinion, above the people you don’t want to marry — LGBT people.

In your declaration of your decision to divorce, you make clear that you want control over the “rules” or you won’t play by them anymore. I have had a similar situation with one of my sons who, in his young life, refused to play games that were not set up by rules he made himself. It took a little time, but I finally showed him that the things that are worthwhile are not the things that cause us to “win” no matter what, they are things that exponentially expand joy and love.

Rules are worthless if they are not based on principles. To make things really valuable, these principles should include equality, fairness, inspiration, nurture and positive development.

You are “quitting” not because of anything having to do with your own marriage or family, but because another family might be given the opportunity for security, honor and growth. Your rationale is not sound, it is not compassionate, nor would anyone on any side of it grow better because of it. Your proposed actions are, in a word … childish.

Such actions have no basis in the Bible, which only allows for divorce in the case of adultery. They have no basis in history, since traditional marriage was as polygamously oriented in ways you fear that marriage today might evolve.

Your actions are also inaccurate in terms of the intentions of others to marry. You have declared that it would now make “marriage … detached from children, [that it’s] just about love.” This makes no sense.

LGBT families have, and intend to have, children. Many times these children are rescued from life threatening or other dire situations. The vapid “every child deserves parents of specific biologies” argument falls very flat to kids who would give anything to simply be fed, nurtured and escape either neglect or abuse.

Many, many couples who wed today also do not intend to have children. I officiated for a lovely man and woman couple in their sixties. Both would faint dead-away at your assertion of my union of them was based on the fact they had to child-bear. They showed up “about love” and have been an inspiration in doing so, as the wife today stands firmly by her husband who is vehemently battling lung cancer.

LGBT couples are not coming together in marriage to spite you. They have no intention of affecting your marriage in any way. They have fought hard for this right, because it is something of great value in their own lives.

Last week, I officiated at the wedding of two beautiful men. The marriage’s meaning was clear to all when the first groom emerged from the wings, being walked down the aisle with his mother. His eyes were brimming with tears. It was evident that this moment was a pinnacle in his life, he was transforming into a further definition of himself and his identity as part of a family.

Whether that family is just he and his spouse, or whether kids will be added, I don’t know. It is none of my business.

Nor is it any of yours.

If you choose to divorce because of what this young man has achieved for himself and his life, that is your prerogative. Just as he did not blame you for his marriage, neither should you blame anyone else for your intended divorce.

If you choose to divorce because others might gain what you have valued in your life, you are not making a statement about marriage. You are not making a statement about love. You are not making a statement about family. You are making a statement about your own damaged egos.

And it is time to grow up.

Rob Watson is a writer for The Next Family and hosts a show called “A Gay Dad Coffee Chat with Rob Watson.” He lives with his family in Santa Cruz.

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