IN AN HISTORIC first, the right to marry of the LGBTQ+ community may finally be recognized by the State, just like all heterosexual couples. Their clamor has reached the chambers of the highest tribunal in the country.
Outside, dozens of gay couples and their supporters gathered and held program in solidarity with the petitioners who spoke in behalf of marriage equality advocates.
The Supreme Court (SC) held on June 19, 2018 its first oral arguments on the Petition for Certiorari filed by gay lawyer Jesus Falcis III and petitioner-intervenors Reverend Crescencio Agbayani Jr. and his partner, Marlon Felipe and Maria Arlyn Ibanez and partner.
The petition filed three years ago was only scheduled by the high court last March 6.
The petition seeks the SC to nullify Articles 1, and 2 of Executive Order 209 or the 1987 Family Code. Petitioners claim that it deprives homosexuals of their right to due process, equal protection, and the right to decisional and marital privacy.
Consequently, Falcis also petitioned the SC to invalidate portions of Article 46 (4) and 55 (6) of the same Code that cited lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation.
They insists that these provisions of the Family Code as unconstitutional, for defining and limiting marriage as between man and woman contrary to Article XV of the 1987 Constitution.
With the Anti-Discrimination Bill, also known as the SOGIE Equality Bill’s legislative status listed as pending for a second committee hearing since December 2016, leaving many among the LGBTQ+ community surprised that the petition has taken the driver seat over the proposed bill.
“This nonetheless strengthened our resolve to keep on pushing what is traditionally accepted and the legal obstacles that hinders 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,” declared gender activist and former UP student leader, Vince Liban of UP Babaylan.
Celebrities such as Boy Abunda, Sebastian Castro, and Juan Miguel Severo have openly endorsed the petition for marriage equality in their social media accounts.
The petition for marriage equality may have caught the LGBTQ+ community by surprise, leaving many skeptical on whether to support it. But for Liban, he asserted that “this should not hinder both organized and unorganized gays from rallying behind the petition, much more divide us. We are all in this because the community stands to benefit from the nullification of these backward and discriminating laws”.
The program of the supporters was highlighted by a mass wedding and renewal of vows of LGBTQ+ couples. The ceremonies were officiated by Metropolitan Community Church.
Among the organizations present were LAGABLAB LGBT Network, Philippine Network of Metropolitan Community Church (other LGBT affirming churches), LGBT student organizations UP Babaylan, PUP Kasarianlan, BulSU Bahaghari, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan and Kaisa UP
A candle-lighting ceremony of rainbow themed candles followed after their program wrapped up as they awaited the oral arguments to conclude by 8pm.
The #WeAreFamilyToo campaign was not only meant to rally support for the petition but to heighten public awareness on the discrimination and bigotry the gay community have endured in asserting their rights to equal protection of laws.