Solon bats for bill on same-sex marriage
It is time for the country to have a same-sex marriage bill, a progressive solon said on Tuesday.
In a press conference, Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez vowed to file a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the country for the 17th Congress.
He said the bill would stir up the debates on the issue, which he said had a critical mass support by Filipinos especially on social media.
Gutierrez said the United States Supreme Court ruling which said same-sex marriage falls under the 14th amendment, as well as the successful referendum in Ireland for the union, compelled him to file such a bill.
“For our own situation, it would be better if it is taken up in Congress … The bill would provide an impetus sa usapan. Without the bill, wala tayong theoretical na pag-uusapan dun. I’m inclined to file the bill and start the ball rolling,” Gutierrez said.
“Within Akbayan, matagal nang nagkakaroon ng discussions on the possibility of filing a bill to legalize same-sex unions … Mayroong impact ‘yung reaction ng maraming Filipino partly on social media … It indicates that in some segments of the population there is an openness to take up the issue. There is a critical mass of Filipinos na gustong simulan ang diskusyon,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said to legalize same-sex marriage, the Constitution need not be amended because it did not define marriage.
He said his bill instead would seek to amend the Family Code provisions that limited marriage between man and woman.
He said the bill would not compel the Church to marry same-sex couples.
“No law can compel religious institutions to change their own rules or to change their own beliefs. What the bill can do, is to allow for a mechanism na ’yung state will recognize civilly ’yung mga kasal,” Gutierrez said.
He said the bill may appoint the local chief executive or mayors to head the marriage.
He added that the provision in the Family Code that defined marriage as a “permanent union between man and woman” may be amended to say “special contract or permanent unions between two persons.”
Asked for his position on same-sex marriage, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said he was torn between being a devout Christian and a father of a daughter who is a lesbian.
But he says because the issue on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community (LGBTQ) is close to home, he is more open-minded on their right to equal protection of the law.
“I would be open to that,” Erice said when asked if his LGBT daughter made him more open-minded about same-sex marriage.
“I’m torn between two situations, I’m a devoted Catholic pero ang aking anak na babae ay lalaki pala. I’d like to achieve a more open mind … From the legal point of view, (we need to protect) these individuals’ rights,” Erice said.
Gutierrez also vowed for the passage of the Anti-Sogi Discrimination Act, which seeks to penalize discriminatory practices on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (Sogi).
The bill, which hurdled the committee level in February, prohibited discriminatory practices such as bias against employees, refusal to admit a person in an institution, denial of access to health services and harassment by law enforcers based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has shot down the idea of a legislation for same-sex marriage, saying God only created man and woman for procreation.
He says such a bill or even a petition before the Supreme Court has no chances of being approved in a predominantly Catholic country that frowns upon same-sex marriage.
“I really don’t know why anybody would want to do that,” Belmonte said of same-sex marriage. “At any rate, I think from the point of view of our own culture, it’s an impossibility for the next few years.”
Pending in the Supreme Court is a petition filed by gay lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III urging 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.
Articles 1 and 2 limit marriages between man and woman while Articles 46 (4) and 55 (6) mention lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation.
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