Yes to civil unions. But for all

Font Size
Jemy Gatdula

Being Right

A disappointing aspect of the ongoing national conversation on same-sex “marriage” is the propensity of some sectors, mostly liberal progressives, to use hateful or hostile language on anyone contradicting them.

For example, say anything against gay “marriage” and you’ll be automatically called “homophobic.”

Never mind that “phobia” means “irrational fear or hatred,” which is hard to apply when the position against gay “marriage” has profound philosophical, legal, historical, sociological, and scientific grounding. Not to mention faith.

And it’s hard to credibly label something homophobic when the opposition against gay “marriage” is not based on hatred but rather on true marriage’s beneficial effect on the spouses, children, the family, and society itself.

There’s a substantial degree of gaslighting being done here by liberal progressives. And a fair amount of “projection.”

Their logic’s precariousness somehow compels liberal progressives to just amp up their volume in the hopes of silencing opposition.

Thus, a word this column has come up with and that is: “ratiophobic.”

Ratiophobic : raSH·ow ‘fōbik; adjective: having an irrational or showing an irrational dislike of or prejudice against reason or rational discussion.

Example of usage would be: “Say something against same-sex marriage means you’re bigoted, intolerant, or medieval, or hate homosexuals”; “Anyone saying something against SSM shall be ‘unfriended’”; and “F-bombs to all religious fanatics out there.”

Many who advocate for same sex “marriage” are, of course, not ratiophobic. Their position is based on a sincere desire to uphold the dignity and respect for every human being. Which this column completely agrees with.

The disagreement lies in the understanding of what “marriage” is, which this space has pointed out is a comprehensive union between one man one woman ordered to procreation and family life.

Those who support same sex “marriage” claim that the defining factor is love or emotional bond. The arguments for and against have been discussed previously and will not be restated here.

In any event, the “compromise” being currently pushed nationally is “civil union or partnership.” Thus, the argument goes, homosexuals will attain the legal benefits afforded to married couples but without using the word “marriage” dear to its defenders.

But this is a false compromise: it provides all the substance of marriage under the guise of a semantic bait and switch.

It actually allows marriage to homosexual couples albeit under a different name, while ignoring the position of those defending marriage as a specific human phenomena (recognized but not created by government) and “good” necessary for the benefit of the spouses, children, the family, and society as a whole.

Such civil-union proposal establishes an alternative or parallel concept to the long established view of marriage as possessing both unitive and procreative aspects. It makes civil unions the equal of marriage, if not a marriage itself.

This makes government complicit in recognizing, endorsing, and the forcing of a principle, relationship, and reasoning directly against the belief, thought, or even faith of those defending marriage.

So here’s a counterproposal, an offer of compromise in good faith, without prejudice to the arguments in favor of marriage previously made.

If indeed, as the LGBT advocacy argues, “marriage” for them is based not on the aforesaid bodily union but on love or emotional bond, then why not have civil unions or partnerships open to all acceptable human relationships and not only to homosexual couples?

The State, in this case, will not be making a judgment on, recognition, and endorsement of any possible sexual relationship amongst the parties (and thus the morality of the relationship), as none is presumed involved, only love or emotional bond being the qualifying element.

Nothing in this proposal endorses incestuous sexual relationships or removes criminal liability as appropriate (e.g., rape).

Thus, any friendship or relationship between or amongst persons able to give consent, as well as the relationships (not necessarily all) enumerated in Articles 37 and 38 of the Family Code (ascendants/descendants, siblings, first cousins, step-parents/children/siblings, in-laws, adopter/adopted), are apt for civil unions.

The common law relationship described in Article 147 can be conveniently absorbed under this concept. Not included here for substantial reasons are persons in existing valid marriages.

This way, the State may provide most legal marital benefits to any proven loving relationship (e.g., hospital visitation, welfare, etc.) without treating or recognizing the same as marriage, and thus upholding the traditional or actual definition of marriage.

Not being marriage, this proposed civil union or partnership will not require (nor will it be appropriate) for surname changes for a party. Any natural offspring will have the biological mother’s surname. Dissolutions other than invalidity or death is permissible, as such will not be considered a divorce.

Finally, the secular nature of this civil union also gives ample protection for religious and academic freedom, and free speech.

Compromises are never perfect but this should be a reasonable step forward for all Filipinos of good will in this profoundly important yet utterly complex issue.


Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.

Twitter @jemygatdula