June 29, 2012 was a day to celebrate love that does not judge – says Rev. Ceejay Agbayani, who helms the Metropolitan Community Church-Quezon City (MCCQC), which held its annual LGBT mass wedding ceremony that day. But – with seven couples opting to wed that day – the event has become more than mere unification of two lives into one, it has also become a call for equal rights for all.
The mass wedding was actually started only in 2011, in Baguio City, when Pastor Myke Sotero of the MCC chapter in the city north of the Philippines, wed multiple couples wanting to be married. “This has evolved to (also) become a call for marriage equality in the Philippines,” Agbayani said in Filipino.
For Agbayani, “this is important kasi para malaman ng sambayanag Pilipino na merong isang Christian church like MCC that is open and affirming to all LGBTs. Na merong isang simbahan na nagkakalinga sa LGBT community. Na ang kasal ay hindi privilege ng heterosexual (lamang) kung hindi ito ay dapat para sa lahat ng taong nais magpakasal. Dahil ang kasal ay isang tangible manifestation ng pagmamahalan ng dalawang tao kahit ano pa ang kasarian nila. Ang kasal ay isang ritwal na pamamaraan na ginagawad ng halos lahat ng relihiyon sa buong mundo. Ang kasal ay paghingi ng basbas mula sa Maykapal para sa kanilang pagmamahalan.”
While Agbayani notes that the marriage vows shared by those MCC weds do not have (for now) legal merits, MCC at least provides a “venue where those who want to, can tell the world of their love to each other.” This, then, becomes important in destroying “patriarchal concepts that stress that marriage is only for heterosexuals. Ang kasal ay dapat hindi ipinagdadamot ng simbahan sa mga nais i-avail ito sapagkat ang serbisyo at ministry ay para sa lahat ng tao, kasali na ang mga LGBTs.”
Involved in the June 29 gathering were celebrants: Rev. Elder Ken Martin, Rev. Stedney Phililips, Pastor Myke Sotero, Pastor Egay Constantino, and yes, Rev. Agbayani.
To LGBT couples considering tying the knot, having a ceremony (unified with other couples, or separately), a visit to MCC is necessary to know of the complete requirements, which include: attending an orientation cum counseling session, photocopy of the birth certificates of those who will marry, ID photos, presentation of forms of identification, and filled-in applications forms, among others.
Already, MCC is planning to hold a mass same sex wedding on June 8, 2013. “We aim for this to be a big event,” said Agbayani, who is eyeing the participation of pastors from MCC’s Mother Church in the US, as well as pastors from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It will be a free event, which, for Agbayani, will both showcase love and how it must be for all.
The Metropolitan Community Church-Quezon City (MCCQC) is at 56 Mindanao Ave., Quezon City. For more information, contact Rev. Ceejay Agbayani at (+63) 9152904310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.