Philippine anti-terrorism law

Inequality? Not in my lifetime

'Because equality does not wait. Equality cannot wait... Gay Filipinos will continue to be born and raised while equality waits'

I remember taking the University of the Philippines (UP) Law Aptitude Exam in 2009. I remember being asked why I wanted to take up law and what I could contribute to society. I remember answering, “I want to take up law to understand the law, so that I can change the law.”

And now here I am, trying to fulfill the purpose why I took up law. I say try because I may not succeed. I have filed the petition but the Supreme Court may dismiss it outright. I have consulted from professors in UP Law. Some are enthusiastic and supportive, some are more cautious. I have also heard from esteemed constitutionalists that my petition is weak, asking who were my Constitutional Law professors. They say that I am not the “proper party” to raise this issue, even if I’m gay. I don’t have a partner. I’m not in a same-sex relationship. I didn’t apply for a marriage license.

Why did I think of doing this?

Because equality does not wait. Equality cannot wait. Equality should not be made to wait for some procedural and legal technicalities.

Gay Filipinos will continue to be born and raised while equality waits. Gay Filipinos will continue to grow up in a society being bullied and ridiculed while equality waits. Gay Filipinos will continue to grow old and die, alone or as a couple deprived of legal protections, while equality waits.

For a long, long time, no one has challenged this inequality. And so nothing has changed.

Frederick Douglas once said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” I demand change. I demand equality. I demand for my rights, and the rights of other LGBT Filipinos. Nothing will be given if it is not demanded. Even the Bible quoting Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” 

The feminist movement didn’t sit and wait for those in power to give them the right to vote, to climb the corporate ladder, and to control their bodies. The civil rights movement didn’t sit and wait for those in power to give them the right to study in the same schools as white Americans, to marry other races, and to be their own masters. The LGBT movement cannot sit back, relax, and wait. 

Why did I think of doing this?

Because there is a chance. I did my homework, of course, and saw there is a chance. I am laying down my (non-existent) legal reputation on the line because there is a chance. Having just passed the bar, I have read the most recent decisions of the Supreme Court and seen an opening to question the constitutionality of the Family Code even if I am not the “proper party” or I do not have “standing,” which in this case would be having a gay partner and applying for a marriage license.

Outgrowing colonial roots

The Philippine Constitution while patterned after the American Constitution has outgrown its colonial roots. The Philippine legal system allows facial challenges to laws, such as the Reproductive Health Law and the Anti-Cybercrime Act, even without an “actual case or controversy,” meaning even if the law has not been applied or enforced yet.

This is because the 1987 Constitution has made it a duty for the Supreme Court to “determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion… on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government.” The Supreme Court has consistently shown it will always uphold the Constitution. 

Rights cannot be made to depend on the approval of the Church or of the majority. We are a democracy, not a theocracy like ISIS. However, we do not live in a pure democracy. We live in a constitutional democracy. 

The purpose of Article III of our Constitution or the Bill of Rights was to remove fundamental rights from the fickle and tyrannical whims of the majority or the powerful, paraphrasing US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. To quote: “One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

Why did I think of doing this?

Because it will hurt no one and benefit many. I stress this: Gay marriage will hurt NO ONE.

If you’re straight and not gay, you’re not forced to marry the same-sex. If you’re religious and do not believe in same-sex marriage, you’re not required to enter into one or to perform religious ceremonies for gay couples. If you’re bigoted and just irrationally hates gay people, you are not forced to love them.

When same-sex marriage is allowed, the world will continue to revolve and you can continue with your own life. When same-sex marriage is prohibited, the world of LGBT people stops when they want to elevate their relationships to a legal status. 

Imagine a gay couple who have lived together for decades. When one of them dies, without marriage, the surviving partner does not have the legal right to inherit property from his loved one unless there is a last will and testament, and even then only a minor share. The surviving partner does not have the legal right to the SSS benefits of his loved one (Social Security vs Azote, 2015). The surviving partner is not given the right and duty to attend to the funeral arrangements of his loved one (Valino vs Adriano, 2014). They say that love is forever but because of inequality, for the love between gay couples, walang forever. 

Without marriage, gay couples are relegated to 2nd class citizen status. Without marriage, gay couples are dehumanized and stripped off their dignity. Without marriage, gay couples are left to die without peace of mind. 

Inequality? Not in my lifetime. –

This piece was solicited by Rappler from the author, after Rappler broke the story on the 31-page petition it had obtained.