Leonen asks: Is there harm in letting same-sex couples marry?
The SC ordered all the parties—the petitioners and Calida, and intervenor-oppositors— to file their memoranda within 30 days from June 26.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
Leonen asks: Is there harm in letting same-sex couples marry?
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - June 26, 2018 - 6:33pm

MANILA, Philippiness — Is there harm in allowing same-sex couples to marry?

At the resumption of oral arguments on a petition assailing the law restricting marriage to unions between a man and a woman, it was Solicitor General Jose Calida’s turn to be grilled by the Supreme Court as he defended the government’s position on same-sex marriage.

Calida, in his opening statement, said that same- sex couples are free to “live happily together.” He said, however, that they “cannot demand that the State recognize same-sex marriages because the constitution simply does not allow such unions.”

READ: Falcis: Constitution does not say marriage only between man and woman 

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen then said: “Against their will, the state tells them that they can live together but they cannot marry...What is the harm in allowing them to marry?”

Calida replied: “The harm is that the constitution and our laws do not sanction such marriage.”

Leonen then argued: “Are we not going to interpret the constitution and the law in such a way that what we wish and what we desire is imposed upon another couple?”

“Why do we interpret our laws and our constitution that we impose something on the freedoms and happiness of others, without showing a very viable reason except tradition?” the justice asked Calida.

But the solicitor general stood firm on his stance and said that the petitioners should be “able to convince the framers of our constitution to change the concept of marriage and expand it to same sex couples.”

Leonen continued to grill Calida and ask whether the very letter of the constitution state that marriage should only be between a man and a woman—a point earlier raised by Falcis.

The solicitor general replied that there is “constitutional construction,” adding that “it does not need to be defined. Everybody knows. It’s the big elephant in the room.”

Calida later softened his stance and said: “It does not say in such language.”

He added that he will expound on his reply to Leonen’s questions in his memorandum.

‘What is the transcendental interest?’

In his petition filed in May 2015, Falcis said that his case raises an issue of “transcendental importance to the nation because of the millions of LGBT Filipinos all over the country who are deprived from marrying the one they want or the one they love.”

He also stressed that lesbian and gay Filipinos are “citizens just as much as straight Filipinos,” but he pointed out that they are “relegated to second-class citizens” due to the “bundle” of rights they lose due to provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines.

But Calida said that procedural flaws cannot trump transcendental interest: “My position is before we even discuss of transcendental interest, the petitioners must first hurdle the procedural issues.”

He earlier pointed out that Falcis, as petitioner, lacks legal standing in the case and his plea should be junked due to lack of merit.

But Leonen argued that transcendental, an exception to justiciablity. He cited the case of the Reproductive Health law, which had no implementing rules and regulations when it was brought to court.

“Yet the court ... went on to make a ruling on the RH issues,” Leonen added.

The justice said that the solicitor general is asking for a “stricter interpretation of rules of justiciability” in this particular case.

“Why now? Is it because the identity being asserted is one which the majority does not accept, feels contagious, feels immoral?” Leonen asked.

But Calida argued that this case is different.

The justice replied: "Are we free to choose a portion in the past and make it tradition and exclude the other portions of the past?"

The solicitor general reiterated his earlier point: "The main portion of that tradition is the marriage of a man and a woman."

The SC ordered all the parties—the petitioners and Calida, and intervenor-oppositors—to file their memoranda 30 days from June 26.

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