Learn to ‘take baby steps’.
That, in a gist, was the lesson from Rep. Geraldine Roman of the 1st District of Bataan, the first trans person to become member of Congress, giving her opinion on some members of the LGBTQI community who are asking the Supreme Court to already legalize same-sex marriage.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a petition filed in 2015 by Atty. Jesus Falcis III that is asking the High Court to declare Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code unconstitutional. The provisions of the 31-year-old law limits marriage between a man and a woman. However, the 1987 Constitution does not categorically state that a marriage must be only between a man and a woman.
Falcis also wanted to nullify Articles 46(4) and 55 (6) of the Family Code, since these provisions include homosexuality or lesbianism as legal grounds for annulment and legal separation.
But several justices noted the need for congressional action to amend Family Code.
On this, House Bill 6595 has already been filed, no less by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, that proposes the recognition of civil partnerships of same-sex couples and granting them the rights to adopt children, social security and insurance, and legal inheritance.
“I believe in taking baby steps, moving forward slowly. We are not yet in that stage of amending the law,” Roman said in a radio interview, adding that passage of a bill proposing recognition of civil partnership of same-sex couples may achieve the end-goal all the same.
Falcis, incidentally, openly refused “civil partnerships”, and want LGBTQI people to also “marry”, since not getting the latter is said to be tantamount to “separate but equal”.
Authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and several other lawmakers including Roman, HB 6595 or the proposed Civil Partnership Act provides civil rights benefits and responsibilities to couples who are unable to marry.
For Roman, “whether we like it or not, marriage is defined as a social union of a man and a woman. It is different from a civil partnership but when it comes to legal rights and protection, they are the same,” she was quoted as saying.
Roman said that the SC petition that questioned the constitutionality of the Family Code might be “counter productive”, stressing that an adverse SC decision could set back the marriage equality advocacy.
Roman also noted that other countries that already legalized same-sex marriages did not immediately accept this concept but started with recognizing civil partnerships.
As such, Roman said, Congress should be given the chance to pass HB 6595.
The next oral argument on the LGBT petition is set on June 26.