SC oral arguments on same sex marriage set for June 19

By Benjamin Pulta

March 6, 2018, 5:52 pm

MANILA -- The Supreme Court (SC) has set for oral arguments a petition originally filed two years ago challenging the validity of provisions of the Family Code limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

At the end of its regular en banc session, the high court "set the case for oral arguments on June 19 at 2 p.m.," SC spokesman Atty. Theodore Te told reporters Tuesday.

The oral arguments will take up a petition originally filed on May 18, 2015 by lawyer Jesus Nicardo Falcis III seeking the lifting of the prohibitions on same-sex marriage for being unconstitutional.

Falcis filed the case shortly after clamor for allowing same sex marriage in the United States resulted in some states allowing the union of same sex couples.

In the Philippines, a pending bill in the House of Representatives is considering the possibility of recognizing "civil unions" regardless of sexual orientation.

In May 2016, the government through then Solicitor General Florin Hilbay formally opposed Falcis' petition claiming that it is an “intrinsically flawed” and "ill-timed suit".

In his petition, Falcis sought to nullify Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code as well as Articles 46 (4) and 55 (6) of the same law. Articles 1 and 2 limits marriages between man and woman while Articles 46 (4) and 55 (6) cites lesbianism or homosexuality as grounds for annulment and legal separation.

The Office of the Solicitor General claimed Falcis' petition fails to demonstrate an “injury in fact” from the implementation of the Family Code. Injury in fact is the litigant’s “personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of [the law’s] enforcement.”

Falcis is also asking the SC to “prohibit the Civil Registrar-General from enforcing the aforementioned portions of Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code in processing applications for and in issuing marriage licenses against homosexual couples.”

The petitioner argued that such limitations imposed by the Family Code favoring only opposite-sex marriages effectively repealed the 1949 Civil Code, which did not make a distinction.

Falcis further argued that Articles 1 and 2 of the Family Code violate his constitutionally protected right to due process and equal protection, right to decisional privacy and right to found a family in accordance with religious conviction.”

He said limiting marriage between a man and a woman is a grave abuse of discretion considering that the Constitution does not define marriage solely as between a man and a woman and that even the Family Code does not require married individuals to procreate or have the ability to procreate.

He also argued that “heterosexuals are no better parents than homosexuals” just as homosexuals aren’t necessarily worse parents than heterosexuals.”

“Homosexuals can raise children well in the same manner that heterosexual couples can. While there is no assurance that gays will not be bad or incompetent parents, there is also no assurance that heterosexuals will not be bad or incompetent parents. This Honorable Court has itself stated that sexual preference or moral laxity alone does not prove parental neglect or incompetence,” he said.

Falcis also says homosexuals like heterosexuals can also fulfill marital obligations laid down by the Family Code such as the obligation to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity and render mutual help and support, fix the family domicile and support the family and pay the expenses for such support and other conjugal obligations. (PNA)