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CBCP exec: US should respect PHL law regarding same-sex marriage

December 9, 2013 1:40pm
For Cecilia Gahuman, it was a wish come true. For the first time in almost 10 years, she can now meet her same-sex fiancé, Hawaii-based Filipino-American Maria Carla Antonio, face to face.

“Ang hirap kausapin yung taong wala sa harapan mo. I mean, dumaan kami dun sa point na nag-aaway kami, nagku-cool off,” a teary-eyed Gahuman said in an interview on GMA News TV's “News To Go” on Monday.

Gahuman was among the two Filipinos who were granted fiancé visas by the US Embassy in Manila following a new US State policy allowing US citizens to petition their same-sex partners.

For Antonio, a member of the US Navy, the granting of the visa was the high point of their relationship. “All these years I didn't lose hope,” she said in the same interview.



This, however, did not sit well with the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), with an official saying it could be regarded as a sign of the US' disrespect to the country's laws.

“Dapat igalang nila ang batas ng ibang bansa. Tulad sa Pilipinas, hindi naman legal ang same-sex union so dapat irespeto nila 'yun,” said Fr. Melvin Castro, executive director of CBCP's Family and Life Commission, in an interview on “News-To-Go.”

Gay marriage is still illegal in the Philippines, a highly Catholic country. The CBCP, which has condemned pastors who presided over same-sex marriages, said gay marriage violates the Family Code of the Philippines, which defines marriage as “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman.”

President Benigno Aquino III said last December 3 that he has reservations about changing this law. Since the next possible step of gay marriages is adoption by these couples, he said the reaction of these children need to be considered, pointing out that growing up in such an environment may “induce more confusion” to the adopted child.

Requirements

Even the US Immigration's website has a notice regarding the same-sex rulings, along with requirements in filing for the visas. Couples, same-sex or opposite sex, need the following in applying for a visa:

  • The US resident half of the couple need to file these for their future spouse: Petition for Alien Relative or Form I-130.
  • Once the US Citizenship and Immigration Services approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will assign a case number to the petition, ask the petitioner to complete Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent, and submit other necessary documents and appropriate fees.
  • Medical examinations and vaccinations need to be accomplished before the visa interview. If approved, the consular officer handling the case will hand the immigrant partner their visa and a sealed packet containing their submitted documents. The sealed packet MUST NOT BE OPENED. Only the US immigration official should open the packet once the partner enters the US.

Required documents in the second step include:

  • Passports
  • Affidavit of Support
  • DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application
  • Two (2) 2x2 photographs
  • Civil Documents
  • Completed Medical Examination Forms

For further information, interested parties could go to the US Department of State's FAQ site. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News
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