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Same-sex marriage legalization in US spurs SC into action

/ 03:33 PM June 30, 2015

A FEW days after the US Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage, the Supreme Court acted on the petition that seeks to abolish the prohibition under the Family Code and allow same-sex marriages in the Philippines.

High Court’s Information Chief Theodore Te said the Civil Registrar is ordered to comment on the petition filed by Atty. Jesus Nicardo M. Falcis III within 10 days.

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“The Court, without necessarily giving due course, required respondent to comment on the petition within 10 days from notice,” Te said at a press conference.

Falcis, who identifies himself as “openly gay,” urged the high court to nullify Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code as well as Articles 46 (4) and 55 (6) of the same law.

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Articles 1 and 2 limited marriages between man and woman, while Articles 46(4) and 55 (6) mention lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation.

Falcis said he has a personal stake in the case since he is an open and identified homosexual and has sustained direct injury because of the prohibition against same-sex marriage.

“Petitioner has grown up in a society where same-sex relationships are frowned upon because of the law’s normative impact. Petitioners’ ability to find and enter into long monogamous same-sex relationship is impaired because of the absence of a legal incentive for gay individuals to seek such relationship,” he added.

He also said that sexual orientation is central to one’s identity as he challenged the notion of sexuality as a choice or preference.

“While any individual can choose to have sex with any individual of the same or opposite sex, they cannot choose who they have feelings of sexual attraction with, such as butterflies in the stomach or erotic sexual arousal,” he said.

Falcis said it is high time for the high court to act on this issue “because of the millions of LGBT Filipinos all over the country who are deprived from marrying the one they want or the one they love.”

“They are discouraged and stigmatized from pursuing same-sex relationships to begin with. Those who pursue same-sex relationships despite the stigma are deprived of the bundle of rights that flow from a legal recognition of a couple’s relationship-visitation and custody rights, property and successional rights and other privileges accorded to opposite-sex relationships,” the petitioner said.

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The petitioner said the Family Code in limiting marriage between man and woman is unconstitutional because it deprives his right to liberty without substantive due process of law, the equal protection of the laws and also violated Section 3(1) Article 15 of the 1987 Constitution.

He explained that the State’s interest is to protect marriage as the foundation of the family.

“The 1987 Constitution does not define marriage solely as between man and woman,” Falcis argued.

The Family Code, according to Falcis, does not require married individuals to procreate or have the ability to procreate. He added that there is also no law prohibiting homosexuals to adopt a child.

“Same sex couples can formally adopt children as individuals under Philippine law or informally adopt children jointly,” he said.

Falcis argued that “heterosexuals are no better parents than homosexuals “just as homosexuals aren’t necessarily worse parents than heterosexuals.”

“Homosexuals can raise children well in the same manner that heterosexual couples can. While there is no assurance that gays will not be bad or incompetent parents, there is also no assurance that heterosexuals will not be bad or incompetent parents. This Honorable Court has itself stated that sexual preference or moral laxity alone does not prove parental neglect or incompetence,” he said, adding that “gay individuals are human beings who can love [one] another person just like straight individuals.”

He added that heterosexuals who enter marriage after committing to a long-term monogamous relationship are no different from homosexuals, who can also enter into long-term monogamous relationship as well.

“Both straight and gay couples have the same chance of breaking up or falling out of love,” he said, adding that no compelling state interests exist to limit civil marriages to opposite-sex couples.

Falcis also said that homosexuals, like heterosexuals, can also fulfill the essential marital obligations laid down by the Family Code such as the obligation to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity and render mutual help and support, fix the family domicile and support the family and pay the expenses for such support and other conjugal obligations.

“Thus, petitioner submits that homosexuals and same-sex couples do not and cannot harm the institution of marriage. In fact, homosexuals and same-sex couples can serve to forward the compelling interest in protecting and strengthening the family as a basic autonomous social institution. Consequently, there is no necessity to limit marriage as between a man and a woman to protect and strengthen the family. There is actually a necessity to allow same-sex marriage,” he added. AC

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