Days before Ireland voted to allow gay marriage, a young Filipino lawyer asked the Philippine Supreme Court to allow same-sex unions.
In his 31-page petition filed May 19 but released by the SC on Tuesday, Jesus Nicardo Falcis III asked the tribunal to nullify the portions of Article 1 and 2 of Executive Order 209 or the Family Code of the Philippines that define and limit marriage as between a man and a woman.
He said those portions violated Section 1, Article III and Section 3 (1), Article XV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
Falcis also wanted the SC to nullify portions of Article 46 (4) and 55 (6) of the Family Code that mentioned lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation.
He said the Civil Registrar-General, named as respondent in the petition, should be restrained from enforcing the contested portions of the Family Code in processing applications for and in issuing marriage licenses against homosexual couples.
Falcis said he had long planned to file such a petition with the Supreme Court.
"I filed the petition because it is the very reason why I studied and took up law to challenge unconstitutional and oppressive laws," Falcis told reporters on Tuesday.
"The fight for equality cannot wait. As soon as I passed the bar, I started preparing to write the petition. The longer time passes the longer gays are discriminated," he added.
Falcis said it did not matter whether or not Filipinos are already ready to accept same-sex union.
"The enjoyment of fundamental rights and liberties do not depend on the acceptance or approval of the majority," he said.
Falcis said in his petition that he was an open and self-identified homosexual, who has sustained direct injury as a result of the prohibition against same-sex marriages.
Falcis said Articles 1 and 2 regulate what he considered fundamental rights like the right to decisional privacy, the right to marital privacy, and the right to found a family in accordance with religious convictions.
He said the two articles deprived him of his right to liberty without substantive due process of law. Falcis insisted that same-sex marriage will not harm the institution of marriage.
“Aside from the ability to found and constitute a family, petition submits that homosexuals just like heterosexuals can fulfill the essential marital obligations laid down by the Family Code,” he said.
Falcis also said Article 1 and 2 of the Family Code violates Sec. 3(1), Art. XV of the Constitution, which states that "The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood.”
Falcis said individuals belonging to religious denominations that believe in same-sex marriage, like the LGBTS Christian Church Inc or the Metropolitan Community Church, are denied of the right to found a family due to their religious convictions.
“Same-sex weddings have been held by members belonging to such Christian denominations from Baguio City to Quezon City. Such religious weddings have been denied recognition under civil law unlike the religious convictions of Catholics and Muslims,” he said.
Falcis also contested a 1997 SC ruling (Chi Ming Tsoi vs. Court of Appeals) in which the high court declared that procreation is one of the essential marital obligations under the Family Code.
“Such declaration of this honorable court is without legal basis and is obiter dictum. No such obligation can be found in the Family Code of the Philippines,” he said.
Assuming for argument’s sake married couple’s are required to pro-create, Falcis pointed out the homosexuals are allowed under the law to adopt.
Falcis said the Family Code allows impotency as a ground for annulment but not sterility. Impotence refers to the inability to copulate or have sexual intercourse, while sterility refers to the inability to procreate, he said.
“Homosexuals ordinarily are not impotent… Even if assuming homosexuals can be classified as a group as sterile, they are not prohibited by Philippine law on domestic adoption and inter-country adoption from individually adopting children,” he said.
“Homosexuals are no better parents than homosexuals. Stated otherwise, homosexuals aren’t necessarily worse parents than heterosexuals,” he added. —NB/TJD, GMA News