SO THE Supreme Court of the United States (Scotus) has ruled that its Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage? Should the Supreme Court of the Philippines follow its US counterpart?
That’s an interesting question as the Philippines’ LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community celebrated the 5-4 historic Scotus vote. Consider, too, that a case is pending before the Philippine Supreme Court to lift same-sex marriage prohibitions in the Family Code.
Last month, lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III, who is openly gay, argued in his petition before the Supreme Court that limiting civil marriages and the rights that go with these to heterosexuals violates the constitutionally guaranteed protection for equal treatment, undue interference to liberty rights and marital autonomy.
Among the provisions of the Family Code Falcis assailed are Articles 1 and 2 that define marriage “as a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life” and which set as one of the essential requisites for marriage that the contracting parties must be “male and female.”
But note that the Scotus ruling was a result of years, even decades, of struggle in the US for gay rights and came at a time when 37 of 50 states had allowed same-sex marriage and when surveys showed that majority, or about two-thirds, of Americans favor such a marriage.
The situation in the Philippines is different, thus the outcome of Falcis’s case could also be different. Even leaders of the LGBT community here admit that legalizing same-sex marriage is one uphill battle. The Catholic Church has been putting up a strong fight against any legislation that contradicts its teachings.
But while the Scotus ruling may not have an immediate legal effect on the push in the Philippines for same-sex marriage, it can spark a discussion needed for the further enlightenment of the people on the issue. An enlightened public is important in resolving matters that are not only controversial but whose resolution could be tradition-altering.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 30, 2015.
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