SC: Ruling on same-sex marriage not a precedent

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    THE Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the petition seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the country, and thus its decision should not be taken as a precedent for future petitions tackling similar topics, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin said yesterday.

    Bersamin said the SC en banc did not make any determination on whether same-sex marriage in the Philippines is legal or illegal.

    He said the court’s ruling merely challenged petitioner lawyer Nicardo Jesus Falcis’ lack of standing and his failure to raise “actual, justiciable controversy.” Justiciable means “capable of being decided by the court.”

    “It (SC ruling) did not resolve anything about the issue, about same-sex marriage. The opinions expressed there will not be controlling. The opinions submitted were dictum proprium (a personal dictum expressed by a judge delivering an opinion not essential to the decision rendered),” Bersamin told members of the media during the “Looking Back with CJ Luke, Isang Pasasalamat” event at the Diamond Hotel, which was part of his farewell activities before he retires from the judiciary next month when he turns 70.

    “We cannot call anything from that a precedent,” he stressed.

    Bersamin said the court would have been prompted to make a legal interpretation on the issue of allowing same-sex individuals to marry had Falcis, who described himself as ‘openly gay’, applied for a marriage license and was denied. “There would have been an actual controversy for the court to decide but that he did not,” he said.

    He added that the fact that Falcis in his petition challenged the existence of the Family Code is also not an issue in the decision.

    “It does not matter how old the law is since there is still an opportunity for the Court to take a look, to examine its constitutionality based on the current Constitution,” he said.

    But despite Bersamin’s clarification, three Catholic bishops lauded the SC for junking what they claimed was an “immoral plea.”

    In separate interviews, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos and Manila auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said they were happy with the court’s ruling.

    “The Catholic Church is very happy with the decision of the Supreme Court to dismiss an immoral plea to legalize same sex marriage in our country. Cheers to the Supreme Court, which defends the true nature of marriage as defined by our present Constitution,” Bastes said.

    Pabillo similarly expressed satisfaction with the high tribunal decision for acting in accordance with the Constitution.

    “This is a good development. Our Constitution and our laws do not allow same sex marriages,” Pabillo said.

    Santos said he was glad that the SC opted to uphold morality in marriage.

    “That is indeed a legal, right, and moral decision of SC. With its decision, our justices decided and affirmed what is just, natural, and ethical nature of marriage. The dismissal of same sex marriage strengthens the sanctity and stability of marriage,” Santos said.

    Pabillo expressed hope that lawmakers will uphold the present definition of marriage as decided by the high court.

    “The fight against same sex marriage will be in the legislature. I hope the lawmakers will give weight to strengthening families rather than weakening them,” Pabillo said.

    On Tuesday, the SC dismissed the petition to allow same-sex marriage in the Philippines, saying it was a matter best addressed to Congress and that Falcis has no legal standing on the case.

    In the petition filed by Falcis in 2015, he asked the SC to nullify Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code, which limits marriages between man and woman, as well as Articles 46 (4) and 55 (6) of the same law, which states that lesbianism or homosexuality are grounds for annulment and legal separation. – With Gerard Naval

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