SC same-sex marriage petition: First step in a long road ahead
allow same-sex marriage in the Philippines. Citing the basic rights that come with the legal recognition of relationships, the petition also touched on the financial, societal, and personal implications of prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying. Last week, a young lawyer by the name of Jesus Nicardo Falcis III filed a petition to the Supreme Court to
While Ireland just approved a referendum on same-sex marriage, 36 out of 50 US states have legalized same-sex marriage, and 60% of the US population now approve of same-sex marriage; some Filipinos may believe that now is also the right time for domestic initiatives.
No wrong time
There is no wrong time for initiatives toward a better society, but when it comes to chances for legal approval, unfortunately we have to accept that this is far from happening in our current legal system. Philippine Family Law is still considered to be in the dark ages as we remain the last country standing without any provisions for divorce.
Despite the government's insistence that there is a separation of Church and state, the Catholic Church's presence is so strong that it influences the rule of law in keeping from its citizens the right to divorce and end failed marriages. There is no question that divorce is as necessary as a marriage contract. Even the most conservative and theocratic among the 195 other countries agree that divorce is essential to their society, leaving the Philippines far behind.
Bringing the topic to the table
The RH bill, a law that is recognized as essential to modern healthcare and family planning, took 14 years to be approved and had its share of legal and political controversy. I am sure that when it was first filed, the initiative also seemed so daunting and impossible, and yet here we are with an implemented law 14 years later.
Same-sex marriage initiatives are bound to go the same long way and will also have their share of legal obstructions and political grandstanding, but what is important is that this first step is actually taken. This first petition may not be given due attention, but it must be filed anyway.
Like the RH bill, this first Supreme Court petition will bring the topic of same-sex marriage to the table. Even if initial responses will definitely be negative, the continuing coverage of LGBT issues will require Filipinos to decide which side of history they're on. Families will be pushed to discuss it with their children, and young people will have to reflect on their own experiences with (or as part of) LGBT couples and determine where they stand on this issue.
Evolve or become obsolete
At the very least, LGBT youth will see that there are lawyers, activists, and advocates who are willing to come out and put their reputation and careers on the line for the idea that all Filipinos deserve equal protection under law. It may inspire them to challenge existing laws. It may push Filipino same-sex couples married in other countries to question why the Philippines rejects their marriage.
As in the RH bill, debates about same-sex marriage will expose the bigots and religious fanatics among our lawmakers, and we will once again see the most ridiculous comments from the most prominent personalities. A big plus of aiming the spotlight on pivotal topics is that we'll also see our favorite politicians become the laughing stock of our younger and more informed generation.
In our immediate surroundings we will see our friends and family members either evolve in their ideas or get left behind and be considered obsolete by their younger counterparts. Like it or not, it is the children and teens around us who will inevitably lead this conversation when it eventually comes to a head.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step
In 1970, two male college students applied for a marriage license in Minnesota, USA – an act that was then considered a useless political performance. However, this initiative became one of the foundations of the modern movement for marriage equality. Those gay activist student plaintiffs are now considered heroes of the successful same-sex marriage movement in the US. (They are also still together, 45 years later.)
When popular variety shows in the Philippines employ senators who urge LGBT parents to stay in the closet for their children's sake, and homosexuality is still considered shameful and deserving of discrimination, a move such as Falcis' petition to the Supreme Court is a brave act that will be remembered for decades to come.
The struggle may very well move at a pace slower than a snail's. Realistically, I may not even see the legalization of same-sex marriage in my lifetime. But it doesn't matter. As long and as difficult as this road may be, the journey has already started for marriage equality in the Philippines.
Whether its opponents like it or not, this first step cannot be undone. The resulting discussions cannot be silenced. The Philippines cannot keep its citizens' eyes and ears closed forever, or keep its brave young souls in the dark.
“But progress comes from changes in laws. In many places, including my own country, legal protections have preceded, not followed, broader recognition of rights. Laws have a teaching effect. Laws that discriminate validate other kinds of discrimination. Laws that require equal protections reinforce the moral imperative of equality. And practically speaking, it is often the case that laws must change before fears about change dissipate." – Hillary Clinton, during a speech to the United Nations on LGBT rights. – Rappler.com