My name is Soren Jensen and I strongly support Marriage Equality. My brother does not.
You may have been made aware in the last 24 hours of my brother, Nick Jensen, and his statement that he will seek a divorce if homosexuals are allowed to marry. He has stated a very strong position against marriage equality. While I disagree strongly with him it is also his right to do so.
Since then I have seen a passionate yet vicious response from the internet, my family and name insulted, lied about, speculation about his marriage and seen him called every name under the sun. He has chosen to make his marital status a personal target, so this is probably not unexpected. But know thy enemy and judge and attack the argument, not the man.
First let me address the man. My brother is a loving father and husband, in a beautiful supportive marriage, a man of deep religious beliefs and he lives by those truths. He is intelligent, educated, compassionate and reasoned. In our debates over this issue, and you can imagine our Christmas conversations, he has always been open to listening, to countering and to engaging in a frank and open debate on the topic.
Nick has used his democratic right of free speech to state his point, and to publicly say that if there is a change in the legislation from the government on marriage he considers this a breach of contract and his marriage agreement with the state should be annulled. He is not a loony, a religious nut or any of the many other descriptions being thrown around. Nor is he a hateful person. He is an intelligent, reasoned man making an argument and a stand on his principles and his religious truth on this issue.
But his statement has hurt people. He is actively involved in the Australian Christian Lobby and this is their moment in the sun on the issue. And the internet has responded accordingly. But sadly most of the comments have been vicious lies, insulting attacks, accusations and ridicule. Perhaps this is deserved. But the level of hate and nastiness, in my mind, is the equivalent of the extremists yelling “Fags must die”. I have read the attacks on him, and his children and shame on those who attacked my niece and nephews and include them in this argument. If both sides resort to name calling and nasty attacks, what can possibly be achieved? Both are guilty of this and it serves nothing and no one.
I’m sad at how this debate can deteriorate, blame on both sides. Clearly each side is passionate and fervent in their reasoning. And each should appreciate there are good people on both sides who have very deep beliefs. But I’m disappointed by the belittling, name-calling and stunts from both sides. We can be better.
I disapprove of what my brother has said, but I will defend to the death his right to say it. And your right to respond. But let’s do so in a way that is constructive.
The movement of marriage equality, at its core, is about love, tolerance, understanding, inclusion and equality. You have read and are very aware of the religious right’s arguments. They are not new, more than likely they will not be changed, and my brother is not alone in these thoughts.
I invite our equality movement to rise above, to engage, and to argue passionately against it. For I believe this line of argument does not represent the majority of views in Australia at this time. And I believe, with hope, in the Australia of inclusion, of free speech, in a wish for a country without racism, sexism or homophobia. Where regardless of race, age, sex, religion or sexuality, you have a voice, you are respected, welcomed, included and represented in our national debates on issues that affect all Australians.
This is a free country, and this issue can and has divided families, friends, communities and the country. We must respect everyone’s right to express themselves, and aim to do so as passionately and respectfully as possible. And reserve our right to disagree and counter equally as passionately as possible. Hate brings hate, love is always stronger.
So I invite you if you have seen this article and are affected by it, not to sling insults on social media, but to get proactive. Write to your MP’s and representatives. Tell them that the church should not be allowed to dictate and has no claim on the definition of marriage in the modern age. That our marriage act is currently discriminatory to those citizens who love each other and want this recognized as equals to all others.
If you are Christian and you do not share the beliefs of my brother then write to the ACL and tell them they do not speak for you. If you support his reasoning, also write to these same people and say that. You are entitled for your voice to be heard, just as my brother is. But equality is the stronger argument. The marriage equality movement leads with tolerance, understanding, compassion, inclusion and love, which should also be the role the Church is playing. Harness the energy this viral response has created and propel it towards positive change.
The time is now. This country is finally having an open debate on this issue, all voices should be heard, and then the obvious decision should be made. It is time for Australia to join the rest of the world in embracing marriage equality. And my brother should too.
I love and respect you, brother. You speak from your truth and I speak from mine.
And on this issue I believe you are wrong.
It’s time for marriage equality.
UPDATE: This article is a response to an earlier one penned by Soren’s brother Nick.