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Protestant church performs same-sex weddings in PHL

Although only heterosexual marriages are recognized in the Philippines, a Protestant Church is already holding same-sex wedding ceremonies in the country. The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a protestant church in Quezon City, Makati, and Baguio, said it has been celebrating weddings between same-sex couples since the 1960s. In an interview on GMA News TV's "News To Go" on Monday, MCC administrative pastor Rev. Ceejay Agbayani said their church celebrates the ritual for couples because weddings are an inherent right of people who love each other. The first same-sex wedding was between two lesbians in 1969, Agbayani said. Talks of legalizing same-sex marriages resurfaced in the Philippines amid the euphoria of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) groups over the legalization of gay marriages in New York in the United States over the weekend. Currently, only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized in the Philippines, as stated in the Family Code of the Philippines. Discrimination against same-sex partnerships Agbayani said the MCC, a non-denominational Christian church, performs same-sex weddings for couples regardless of their religious beliefs. He said their church opens its doors especially for those whose churches discriminate against same-sex partnerships. "Hindi naman pinagdadamot ng simbahan ang pagpapakasal dahil kagustuhan ito ng nagmamahalan," he said. "Ito 'yung tawag na pagbubukas sa mga LGBT. Saan pa sila pupunta kung ang simbahan nila ay sinasarahan sila?" "Illegal" Meanwhile, a member of the Catholic Church hierarchy said these same-sex weddings performed in the country are against the law. In an interview on "News To Go" on Monday, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) media office director Msgr. Pedro Quitorio said the weddings peformed by MCC are illegal because these unions are not between a man and a woman. Quitorio cites the requisites of marriage as stated in the Family Code, which says no marriage shall be valid unless the following requisites are present:
  • The legal capacity of the contracting parties who must be a male and a female; and
  • Consent freely given in the presence of the solemnizing officer. He said a marriage between a same-sex couple will not be recognized by the law because it cannot be issued a marriage certificate. Unlike heterosexual couples who get married in church or in a civil rite, same-sex couples who get married in MCC are not given a marriage license. "'Di solemnized ang (kasal) dahil hindi man and woman," he said. "Kahit ginawa ito, hindi ito civil church marriage." "So ano ito? Ito ba ay simulation o laro lamang? Dahil sa ating konteksto, hindi (ito) marriage. So what is that?" he added. Quitorio also said that the Catholic Church's disapproval of same-sex marriages cannot be considered a form of discrimination against members of the LGBT community. "Meron tayong batas. Kung ang tao ay 'di sumusunod sa batas, hindi diskriminasyon 'yun," he said. "We have a law and we have to follow the law." Part of religious ritual However, a lawyer said the same-sex unions performed in the Metropolitan Community Church is not illegal and is within the rights of the MCC. Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, executive director of non-governmental organization EnGendeRights, said that while the same-sex marriages performed in MCC are not recognized civilly, these weddings are done within their religious practices and are therefore valid within their religious rights. "Mali ang simbahan na hindi siya marriage o union. Because of their religious freedom, it's valid within their religious rights," Padilla said in an interview with GMA News Online. "If we want to have (same-sex) marriages that are recognized civilly, we need a law expressly saying that a marriage by two persons is allowed, regardless of sexual orientation," she said. "As it is, there is nothing illegal about the performed wedding ceremonies in MCC," she said. Regardless of the legal aspects of the same-sex unions performed in their church, Agbayani said it is overwhelming to see couples who still go through the ceremony. "Iyon ang patunay na may mga taong nagmamahalan at gusto talaga nilang ma-bless sa simbahan para sa kanilang pagmamahalan, whether may legal entity or wala," he said - VVP, GMA News