MANILA – Same sex couples can go about their business without fear of arrest, but should not expect their status to be legalized anytime soon.
This is how the Duterte administration sees it, even as the Supreme Court (SC) hears arguments for and against legalizig same-sex partnerships.
The official government stand became clear when Solicitor General Jose Callida said on Tuesday, June 26, that “marriage, as traditionally conceived in the Philippines, has always been between a man and a woman.”
This is made clear in the 1987 Constitution, which the SolGen cited as the reason the government could not support the petition seeking marriage equality in the country.
Said Callida: “The definition of marriage adopted by the drafters of our Constitution is guided by the teachings of history and the recognition of the traditions that underlie our society.”
His opening statement drew varied oral arguments from SC justices after a lawyer petitioned the high tribunal to legalize same-sex marriage in the Philippines. The main argument is the one undeniable fact: the global trend is to legalize same-sex unions or marriages, whether under civil or religious rites.
Lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III – who openly admits to being gay — had filed a petition seeking to crap provisions of the Family Code. Falcis argued that limiting legal marriages between heterosexual couples was unconstitutional.
During Tuesday’s hearing, SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen asked Calida if there would be any harm done to anyone if same sex couples including members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community were allowed to legally marry.
The SolGen’s reply revealed what has long been an unwritten government policy – same sex couples may openly live as a married pair without being legally harassed.
“They can live happily ever after, but they cannot insist that they should be allowed to marry,” Calida said. Leonen pressed Calida by asking, “So against their will the state tells them that they can just live together but they cannot marry. Again, what is the harm in allowing them to marry?”
Calida replied: The Constitution and our laws do not sanction such marriage, your honor.” The SolGen, however, conceded that it was only the Family Code and not the Constitution that stated in black and white that marriage could only occur between a man and a woman.
In Falcis’s petition, which received a battery of questions from the SC justices at the start of the hearings last week, the doctrine of “transcendental importance was cited.
Calida said the best way to address the issue was to amend the charter by allowing same sex couples to marry.
In the meantime, Calida said the legal limits of marriage to opposite-sex couples do not violate the equal protection and the due process clause under Philippine law.
Thus, same sex couples can live as a married pair if they so desired, but will have to wait until actual marriage is legalized.