Supreme Court tackles: Are same-sex couples family too?

Lian Buan
‘Is there a statistical study that shows that heterosexual couples make better families?’ Associate Justice Marvic Leonen asks Solicitor General Jose Calida

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. Justices of the Supreme Court led by acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio hold oral arguments on same sex marriage. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The global battlecry for same-sex marriage is #LoveWins. Here in the Philippines, the groups backing the same-sex marriage petition deviated from the popular hashtag to trend one of its own, #WeAreFamilyToo.

It is intrinsically Filipino to put a premium on families. After all, the Constitution guarantees protection of the Filipino family, to “strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.”

On Tuesday, June 26, the Supreme Court devoted a good part of the oral arguments to ask this question: are same-sex couples a family too?

The right to raise a child

Solicitor General Jose Calida argued that when it comes to marriage, same-sex couples do not enjoy the right to equal protection of laws because there is a substantial distinction between same-sex couples and straight couples, and that is the ability to procreate.

Right to equal protection of laws is limited, “substantial distinction” being a valid ground to limit such a right.

Associate Justice Samuel Martires asked Calida: If marriage was intended for procreation, then why are old couples who are unable to procreate still allowed to marry?

“Procreation may not be feasible because of certain health conditions of either or both the partners,” Calida said.

When Martires asked if the framers of the Constitution were unable to contemplate such limitations, Calida said the loopholes can be fixed – and same-sex marriage can be allowed – if the Constitution is changed, but only after the Constitution is changed.

Will passing same-sex marriage protect the family?

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen pointed out that some straight couples are unable to bear a child, and yet they are allowed “third-party interventions” to be able to still raise a child. 

Same-sex couples can use third-party interventions too, Leonen said.

“Why does the State protect third-party intervention for an offspring in a heterosexual and not in a homosexual couple?” Leonen asked.

Calida was unable to directly answer, and tried to set aside the issue by saying “there are not that many” straight couples who are unable to procreate. Leonen warned Calida to be careful so as to avoid hurting the feelings of such couples.

Wrapping up his interpellation of Calida, Leonen asked: “Is there a statistical study that shows that heterosexual couples make better families?”

“I am not aware,” Calida said.

Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro asked Calida: “Will the marriage of same-sex couples strengthen and protect the family of the basic social structure?”

Quoting the dissenting opinion of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on the landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all US States, Calida said: “At present, no one including social scientists, historians and philosophers can predict with any certainty what the long-term ramifications of widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage will be and judges are certainly not equipped to make such an assessment.” –


Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.