MANILA- If love is possible outside marriage, then why is the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community still seeking the legalization of same-sex marriage?
This was the question raised by Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to a lawyer seeking the legalization of same-sex marriage in the Philippines.
"Is it possible to love, to promise, to commit, to have children, to have intimate relations outside of marriage?" Leonen asked during his interpellation of lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III.
Falcis, who had described himself as "an open and self-identified homosexual,” was behind the petition seeking legal recognition for same-sex marriage, arguing that parts of the Family Code violate homosexuals' right "to found a family" as protected under the 1987 Constitution.
The lawyer responded to Leonen in the affirmative and was then asked by the magistrate: "So, what's the problem?"
Falcis explained that depriving the LGBT of the right to marry prevents them from accessing a "bundle" of legal rights.
"We are only of submission that without marriage, we lose access to a bundle of legal rights and obligations that will help serve as the foundation of a family," he said.
"The legal recognition of same-sex relationships under marriage would allow them to access numerous rights," he added, citing the right to make medical decisions for one's partner as an example.
Named respondents in Falcis' petition were the Civil Registrar General while petitioners-in-intervention include LGBTs Christian Church Inc, Reverend Crescencio Agbayani Jr., Marlon Felipe, and Maria Arlyn Ibanez.
The landmark case opens legal discussion on what is considered taboo in Asia's bastion of Catholicism and coincides with the LGBT community's celebration of Pride Month.
During oral arguments on his petition, Falcis argued that LGBT couples, like heterosexual couples, can establish a family and should be allowed to marry.
"Marriage is indeed a special contract for the purpose of establishing a conjugal and family life. LGBT couples with or without children constitute a family too and should have access to marriage to serve as their foundation," he said.
"Same-sex couples, just like opposite couples, can establish a conjugal and family life," he added.
Falcis explained that under the 1987 Constitution, there are no gender restrictions when it comes to marriage.
Leonen then asked why Falcis insisted that same-sex couples may also marry when there are several ways to "reconstruct" civil unions.
"Heterosexual couples may or may not marry but LGBT couples don't have the same choice," Falcis said, noting that the Constitution provides that their rights should also be protected.