Bataan First District Representative Geraldine Roman on Wednesday said that based on her observation, the Philippines is not yet ready for same-sex marriage, but seems to be open to a civil partnership.
In an interview on News To Go, Roman said that the Civil Partnership Bill that she and other lawmakers authored was warmly accepted by her fellow congressmen.
"Maganda ang pagtanggap ng aking mga kasamahan sa Kongreso sa Civil Partnership Bill," she said.
"Kasi ang katotohanan ay hindi pa handa. Ako ay bahagi ng Kongreso at nakakausap ko araw-araw ang aking mga kasamahan. At sa aking pagtatantiya, hindi pa handa ang Kongreso, ang ating bansa para sa isang same-sex marriage bill. Pero kapag pinag-usapan natin ang Civil Partnership Bill na isang bagay na kakaiba naman, ay parang nagbubukas ang kanilang mga puso at kanilang mga isipan," she added.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon started hearing oral arguments on a lawyer's petition that — if granted — would pave the way for same-sex marriage in the Philippines.
Arguing to challenge the Family Code's limit of marriages to heterosexual couples, lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III, a self-identified gay man, finally saw his day in the highest Philippine court three years after he filed his petition.
Roman clarified that the Family Code is different from the proposed Civil Partnership Bill or House Bill 6595.
Marriage is defined as a social or religious institution between a man and a woman, Roman said.
She clarified that the bill does not seek to redefine that, but rather push to give the same rights to same-sex partnerships.
If the bill is signed into law, same-sex partnerships may be legally recognized and partners will be afforded the rights to insurance, inheritance, adoption, property rights, and the right to take medical decisions.
"Ang punto ko diyan, ang civil partnership ay different from marriage because as the opponents themselves of such a measure would say, civil partnership is not a sacrament. It does not convey sanctifying grace, or it does not count as the blessings of God," she said.
"But when it comes to legal rights and protection, as well as rights and obligation, pareho 'yan," she added.
Roman said that even if civil partnership is not the same as same-sex marriage, the bottom line is that the LGBT community will get the same rights previously denied them.
The lawmaker believes that this is a good first step to achieving marriage equality, and that the LGBT community may get farther by taking baby steps.
"Equality, this is basically what we're fighting for. What's in a name? If we get the same rights and obligations, but call it as a different name, what's the big deal? Maybe in the future, if you want to insist on that name. But if that name is gonna be the main stumbling block and that will make the doors of heaven shut to any possibility to attaining equality, then let's forgo that term. Let's not be too dogmatic," she said.
Roman pointed out that other countries that eventually allowed same-sex marriage first legalized civil partnerships.
"If you look at the example of other countries, these countries started with a civil union or a civil partnership law. They did not just immediately accept the concept or same-sex marriage. The majority of them have passed through the same experience," she said.
The Human Rights Watch, an international human rights group, on Wednesday expressed hope that the SC's hearing on a petition for same-sex marriage would pave the way for equal marriage laws in the Philippines. —Jessica Bartolome/KG, GMA News