Wedding gift

LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - December 1, 2013 - 12:00am

I am on my way to a gay wedding. Everyone knows the wedding is void, but who cares. Certainly not the groom, or the other groom. Much less the guests, who are here to party.

As far as everyone is concerned, if the couple wants to commit themselves to each other forever their whole lives until death do them part before the whole world, then everyone there will take the couple's public avowal at face value, with no questions asked, or eyebrows raised.

I receive a text message at 8:30 in the morning from Melvin, one of the grooms, which read "Hi Joseph. It's a great sunny day! It's a great day to be married!!!" That triggers a huge smile from me, as there is none of that nervousness or fear one would expect from a soon to be publicly hitched individual. Perhaps I am just projecting my own fears, but this guy is sure of himself, sure of his feelings for his partner, sure of his commitment. Sure enough to defy even our laws.

There are only a few countries that have legalized gay marriage, and the Philippines, the only country without a divorce law, is certainly not one of them. Our Civil Code, in all its homophobic glory, defines a marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Which means this ceremony I am about to attend is not a marriage, but as I said, who cares.

We could call it a commitment ceremony or an exchange of vows. Certainly not a marriage, with all its benefits, including the right to inherit from each other, the right to employer benefits, the right to access in hospitals, or even the right not to be compelled to testify against each other in court. But perhaps, this couple is prepared to forego all of these rights, just so they can call each other something beyond mere boyfriends.

It makes us wonder why the law still refuses to recognize the strength of these kinds of commitments. Why would the State reject these commitments? Are there any compelling reasons for our government to keep ignoring the growing worldwide acceptance of gay marriage?

With support for gay marriage growing every day, with states in the US of A losing arguments before their Supreme Courts almost every other month, and more countries accepting fiancé visas from gay couples, why should the Philippines persist in its homophobia?

Perhaps it is time that we put this hard question squarely before our legislators. We know there has just been a bruising battle for the reproductive health law that saw names besmirched and political careers ended, that pitted Church and pro-choice advocates against each other in less than civilized debates.

We can expect the same circus to attend any movement for legitimizing marriage here in this deeply Catholic country. But really, if this debate doesn't start now, then we are just postponing victory a day, a month and a year later.

Ok, maybe it shouldn't be at the top of the agenda, what with the current efforts to shore up the ineptitude we saw in addressing Typhoon Yolanda a.k.a. Haiyan. And stripping away the billions of funds accessible to corrupt legislators via the pork barrel scheme.

But certainly, that item should already be somewhere in our legislators' laundry list. Baby steps should already be taken so that one of these days, while Melvin and Lester are still alive, they can smile at each other and call each other husband and husband, not just before us, their friends who are privileged enough to have witnessed this ceremony, but before the whole world.

And then maybe I can publish their full names.

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