Strik­ing Haters: Why same-sex civil union isn’t the death of mar­riage

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

T here is an on­go­ing de­bate whether or not to ap­prove gay unions in the Philip­pines. I had one such de­bate.

One ben­e­fit of the dig­i­tal age is the in­stant shar­ing of in­for­ma­tion on the web, be it on Face­book, Twit­ter, or any other plat­forms. As I was reading my usual feed, one ar­ti­cle caught my eye- an opin­ion with a stark op­po­si­tion to same-sex mar­riage. It was well-writ­ten. Why the de­bate then?

Be­ing one of the only two pre­dom­i­nantly Catholic coun­tries in Asia (the other be­ing East Ti­mor), the Philip­pines by ma­jor­ity does not fa­vor same-sex mar­riage. The idea of two men or women be­ing wed by a holy priest at a sa­cred place is sac­ri­le­gious to the faith­ful ma­jor­ity. Af­ter all, the sacra­men­tal ben­e­fits of holy mat­ri­mony are strictly ex­clu­sive to the union of a man and a woman.

Same-sex Civil Union

It turns out what is prob­a­bly get­ting trac­tion is the push for gay civil unions, not mar­riage. I’ll spare you from the word­plays but the point is this type of union is purely sec­u­lar and de­void of any re­li­gious rit­u­als found in church wed­dings. In other words, this is a for­mal recog­ni­tion by and from the state of ho­mo­sex­ual part­ner­ships, which let’s face it have been here for so long and are not go­ing any­where. It is, the way most peo­ple put it, the ac­cor­dance of equal rights to same-sex cou­ples which is al­ready long over­due. Think of it as a purely state-rec­og­nized union but one that is for both men or both women.

The fact this union does not cur­tail the right to freely ex­er­cise re­li­gion shows us it has more po­ten­tial to be uni­fy­ing than sep­a­rat­ing. Most of the ar­gu­ments thrown against it are just a hodge­podge of sorts- log­i­cal fal­la­cies such as ap­peals to tra­di­tion, at­tempts to mis­di­rect us and miss the point, or plain rhetoric. For one, le­gal­ists seem to be blind to the fact that the Con­sti­tu­tion is silent as a lamb on the pro­hi­bi­tion of same-sex mar­riage, let alone same-sex civil union, but the Con­sti­tu­tion does scream aloud the prin­ci­ples of jus­tice, love and equal­ity. Civil unions, when rec­og­nized by the state as a com­mon con­tract for all just as any other con­tract, is a bind­ing not dis­in­te­grat­ing force.

Re­sist To­gether

Per­haps this year’s Metro Manila Pride couldn’t be more com­mem­o­ra­tive the event that marked the Pride we knew to­day- the Stonewall Riot of 1969. A re­sis­tance to po­lice raids on gays, Stonewall was a sig­nif­i­cant driver in for­ward­ing the LGBTQ+ rights move­ment. Its strong mes­sage of re­sis­tance, which I qual­ify to be in­ter­sec­tional with other so­cial is­sues, has changed much of the world since then. I con­sider the Philip­pines a con­ser­va­tive coun­try be­cause of its unique de­mo­graph­ics as I have stated be­fore. How­ever, just like other coun­tries who took a stride for Pride, the Philip­pines was no ex­cep­tion. Did you know this coun­try held the first-ever Pride-re­lated event in Asia? It is re­ported in 1994, to com­mem­o­rate Stonewall and re­sist the im­po­si­tion of Value Added Tax, the event known as “Stonewall Manila” or “Pride Rev­o­lu­tion” hap­pened in Que­zon City. Though or­ga­nized by Pro­gay Philip­pines, there were mem­bers of the Metropoli­tan Com­mu­nity Church who took an ac­tive part in the or­ga­niz­ing. To put it sim­ply, the first Pride event in Asia hap­pened in the Philip­pines, showed the in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity of Pride with so­cial is­sues, and united the still-ex­ist­ing war­ring fac­tions of the re­li­gious and the LGBTQ+.

I ex­pect this year’s Metro Manila Pride wouldn’t be essen­tially dif­fer­ent. As with the pre­vi­ous Prides, ex­pect there would be calls to re­sist the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “march” with China that is en­croach­ing upon our ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters. It would be a won­der­ful and colorful av­enue for re­sis­tance af­ter a Chi­nese ves­sel rammed one of our fish­ing boats.

The po­ten­tial of this event to col­lec­tively fos­ter change is crazy as Metro Manila Pride held the largest Pride demon­stra­tion in South­east Asia last year (es­ti­mated to be at 25,000). In ad­di­tion, there were also lo­cal demon­stra­tions in re­mote cities such as Cebu and Iloilo. I am happy that this year in Ba­colod, rainbow flags waved in the air around the town plaza once again.

When­ever I have an ar­gu­ment about any is­sue, whether in on­line or per­sonal, I try to see what other per­spec­tives I could look at it from- to lis­ten, not just hear. When we try to see with dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, we may re­al­ize that the things we thought were sep­a­rat­ing may ac­tu­ally be uni­fy­ing. Let me get straight to the point: there would be no fu­neral march for our long­stand­ing tra­di­tional mar­riage, no re­li­gious rights would be tram­pled on, fa­ther would bless only Adam and Eve, only a state recog­ni­tion for Adam and Steve or Eve and the pretty girl she chose over Adam. See that per­spec­tive now?

***

The au­thor of this ar­ti­cle would like to thank Mr. Churchill Aguilar, Edi­tor-in-chief of Suns­tar Ba­colod, for putting up a space for the au­thor’s thoughts. Cur­rently an un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dent at UP Dil­i­man, the au­thor is orig­i­nally from Ba­colod City and has lived there for 16 years.

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