The Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines heard oral arguments on a petition seeking to allow same-sex marriage in the Philippines.
In 2015, Atty. Jesus Falcis III filed a petition 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.
In his opening statement before the SC en banc, Falcis said that “nothing in Article XV or other provisions of the Constitution limits the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.”
Falcis was grilled by the justices on various issues.
Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the first to question Falcis in open court, asked if it is “possible to love, to promise, to commit, to have children, to have intimate relations outside of marriage?”
While Falcis said yes, he stressed that there are “contracts and stipulations that will not be allowed unless you are married because they are contrary to law.” These include: insurance inheritance from the SSS and GSIS that can only be given to a spouse and next-of-kin.
For Associate Justice Teresita De Castro, should the SC grant Falcis’ petition, provisions of the Revised Penal Code will be affected, including provisions on concubinage and adultery. As such, she posited that a law passed by Congress on marriage equality may best deal with this issue as this same law will also address related issues and how courts should respond to them.
Other issues raised included: the “jumping” in the filing of the case, considering that Falcis admitted he was not discriminated by the party he is suing, and yet it was already filed with the SC; the case was not even tested in a Regional Trial Court, and was rushed to the SC; the seeming non-consideration of efforts in Congress to legalize civil partnerships in the Philippines; and issues on terminology (e.g. “discontent” with civil union and demand for “marriage”, which is stereotypically closely linked with male-female coupling).
If given the opportunity to file a memorandum, the petitioners were told to detail more facts related to the case – e.g. on the claim that LGBTQI parents are as good as heterosexual parents.
Solicitor General Jose Calida is expected to defend the government’s position at the hearing on June 26.