Why the SC junked Falcis' plea for same-sex marriage

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Why the SC junked Falcis' plea for same-sex marriage
Members and allies of the LGBT community gathered for Pride March in Marikina City, June 2017.
Michael Rebuyas, file

MANILA, Philippines — It took more than three years for lawyer Jesus Falcis III to have his plea for same-sex marriage to be debated on by Supreme Court magistrates.

But the SC — after it heard Falcis, main petitioner in the case, and the LGBTS (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight) Christian Church through oral arguments — unanimously shot down their petition.

Voting on September 4, the SC dismissed the petition due to "lack of standing, violating the principle of hierarchy of courts, and failing to raise an actual, justiciable controversy."

READ: Same-sex marriage up for oral arguments at SC

The high court recently made public Associate Justice Marvic Leonen’s ruling on the case.

Here are the reasons why the SC rejected Falcis’ petition, for now

Congress is the better avenue to push for same-sex marriage

In rejecting the petition, Leonen recognized that same-sex couples “deserve legal recognition in some way.”

Leonen also noted that a number of proposed measures have been filed in Congress to address continuing discrimination suffered by the members of LGBTQI+ community, including the SOGIE bill.

He also noted that the Congress has approved the Safe Spaces Act, or Republic Act 11313, which addresses “transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs.”

But the justice noted that: “Whether such recognition should come by way of the exact same bundle of rights granted to heterosexual couples in our present laws is a proposition that should invite more public discussion in the halls of Congress.”

“This Court cannot make a final pronouncement on the wisdom of policies. Judicial pronouncements based on wrong premises may unwittingly aggravate oppressive conditions,” he added.

Leonen held: “The task of devising an arrangement where same-sex relations will earn state recognition is better left to Congress in order that it mat thresh out the many issues that may arise.”

Falcis did not represent issues LGBTQI+ community face

Falcis, in 2015, filed a 31-page Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition against provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines.

He asked the SC to declare as unconstitutional Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code, which was issued as Executive Order 209 by President Corazon Aquino in 1987.

The two provisions of the Family Code discuss marriage and its requisites.

He claimed that the two provisions deprive LGBTs of their right to due process and to equal protection, the right to decisional and marital privacy, and the right to found a family "in accordance with their religious or irreligious convictions."

But the SC said that the petitioner failed to “represent the very real and well-documented issues that the LGBTQI+ community face in Philippine society.”

Leonen also explained that the State’s interest in marriage and married persons extends to criminal laws, taxation, labor laws, rules of court, and special laws including the National Health Insurance Act of 2013.

He stressed: “Thus, the claim for a state-sanctioned marriage for same-sex couples should come with the concomitant willingness to embrace these burdens, as well as to submit to the State certain freedoms currently enjoyed outside the institution of marriage.”

Despite these bindings, the petitioner, Leonen pointed out, did not “show proof that he has obtained even the slightest measure of consent from the members of the community that he purports to present, and that LGBTQI+ persons are unqualifiedly willing to conform the State’s present construct of marriage.”

RELATED: Same-sex marriage petitioners cited in contempt by Supreme Court

Not this case

While the SC rejected the petition, it stressed that the Court “[understands] the desire of same-sex couples to seek, not moral judgment based on discrimination from any of our laws, but rather, a balanced recognition of their true, authentic, and responsive choices.”

It however noted that the petition at hand did not present “the clearest actual factual backdrop to make reasoned judgement our Constitution requires.”

RELATED: Bersamin: Junked Falcis plea has no bearing on future same-sex marriage petitions

“Perhaps, even before the actual case arrives, our democractically-elected representatives in Congress will have see the wisdom of acting with dispatch to address the suffering of many of those who choose to love distinctively, uniquely, but no less genuinely and passionately,” the ruling further read.






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