Same-sex marriage rejected

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    THE Supreme Court (SC) en banc has thrown out the petition seeking to make same-sex marriage legal in the country.

    In a decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the High Court dismissed the petition filed by lawyer Nicardo Jesus Falcis III due to “lack of standing of the petitioner, as well as violation of the principle of hierarchy of courts and its failure to raise actual, justiciable controversy.”

    Justiciable means “capable of being decided by the court.”

    The high court reminded Falcis that it passes judgment on matters that entails ruling either in the affirmative or in the negative and on issues driven by actual controversies because “it is only through the existence of actual facts and real adversarial presentations that this Court can fully weigh the implications and consequences of its pronouncements.”

    The court said allowing individuals of the same gender to legally marry, an issue which is expected to spawn heated and animated debates between conservatives and liberals, is best left for Congress to address.

    “The Court, through the ponente, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, recognized the protracted history of discrimination and marginalization faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and other gender and sexual minorities community, along with their still ongoing struggle for equality… (but) official recognition of their partnerships, may for now, be a matter that should be addressed to Congress,” the SC said.

    It said that “legislation ideally allows public democratic liberation on the various ways to assure (the) fundamental rights” of members of the LGBTQI+ community.

    “Often public reason needs to be first shaped through the crucible of campaigns and advocacies within our political forums before it is sharpened for judicial fiat,” it added.

    In the same ruling, the SC also cited Falcis and his co-counsels, Darwin Angeles, Keisha Trina Guangko and Christopher Ryan Maranan for indirect contempt for “exploiting” the case for propaganda.

    “To forget the bare rudiments of court procedure and decorum – or worse, to purport to know them, but really, only to exploit them by way of propaganda, and then, to jump headlong into the taxing endeavor of constitutional litigation is a contemptuous betrayal of the high standards of the legal profession,” the court said.

    In rebuking Falcis and his co-counsels, the court said it seemed that they merely wanted to see their names in the jurisprudential records.

    “What we do in the name of public interest should be the result of collective decision coming from well-thought out strategies in whose name we bring the case before this Court. Otherwise, premature petitions filed by those who seek to see their names in the jurisprudential records may only do more harm than good,” it said.

    The Falcis petition filed three years ago sought to legalize same-sex marriage in the country and declare as unconstitutional certain provisions of the Family Code which defines and limits marriage between a man and a woman and to nullify portions of Articles 4.6 (4) and 55 (6) of the same Code which mentions lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation.

    In his petition, Falcis, who described himself as an ‘”openly gay” lawyer, said limiting civil marriages and rights that go with it to heterosexuals violate the constitutionally-guaranteed provisions on equal treatment and constitute undue interference to liberty rights and marital autonomy.

    During the oral arguments on the case, Falcis and his co-counsels argued that marriage as an institution of a family should not be limited only to the “traditional model,” meaning parents belonging to the opposite sexes and their children.

    They stressed that LGBT couples with or without children constitute a family too and should have access to marriage like “traditional model” of a family, adding that denying LGBT couples of their right to marry only goes to show that the State refuses to value their dignity and rights as a human being.

    Then Solicitor General Florin Hilbay opposed the petition and asked the SC to dismiss it, saying it was “intrinsically flawed” and had many “jurisdictional defects” for the Court to decide on the purported substantive matters it raised.

    Hilbay said then that first among these defects is that Falcis has no legal standing to file the petition since he failed to show “injury in fact,” from the implementation of the Family Code.

    Solicitor General Jose Calida echoed Hilbay’s arguments during the oral arguments and said the 1987 Constitution does not allow same-sex marriage.

    “Same-sex couples can live happily together but they cannot demand that the State recognize same-sex marriage because the Constitution doesn’t allow such unions,” Calida said.