THE PETITION to legalize same sex-marriage in the Philippines may be dangerous to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement, Supreme Court Associate Justice Mario Victor “Marvic” F. Leonen said at the oral arguments for the case held during LGBT Pride Month in June.
In his opening statement before the high court on Tuesday, petitioner and lawyer Jesus M. Falcis III said that Articles 1 and 2 of Executive Order (EO) No. 209 (Family Code) were unconstitutional as they deprive same-sex couples the right to marry without substantive due process, denied them equal protection of laws, and violate their religious freedom.
According to the EO, “marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman” and that the contracting parties must be “male and female.”
Mr. Falcis claimed this was unconstitutional as same-sex marriage was a “fundamental and constitutional right.”
Mr. Leonen, however, pointed out to Mr. Falcis that “you are now going to put squarely for the Supreme Court of this Republic an issue which will require a very intimate reading of the provisions of the Constitution.”
“You claim it is a fundamental and constitutional right. On the other, (Solicitor-General Jose C. Calida) takes the position that it is a right, yes, but it is a statutory construct which means that the right to marry may be there but it needs to be clarified in Congress rather than in the court,” Mr. Leonen also said.
He added: “the Solicitor-General takes (a) dangerous position for your side because it actually argues that the Constitutional provision which says that marriage founds a family only refers to a male and a female — an opposite sex relation.”
“If this court adopts that second position, then even same sex relationships will no longer be a political question. It will not be able to pass any bill in the House or in the Senate because the Supreme Court might say, if it agrees with part of the argument of the Solicitor-General that marriage is only for (opposite sex) couples constitutionally.”
Mr. Falcis’ petition was the first same-sex marriage case to be debated by the high court in oral arguments.
In show of support for the petition, LGBT allies gathered in front of the SC building in Padre Faura, Manila.
“This (petition) strengthened our resolve to keep on pushing what is traditionally accepted and the legal obstacles that hinder us from being accorded the same rights and legal protections heterosexuals enjoy and be recognized as well for our societal contributions wherever the front lines the struggle for equality take us,” said student leader and activist Vince Liban of the University of the Philippine’s Babaylan. — D.A.M.E.