Common Sense

Same-sex marriage is marriage. I can understand some people’s need for distinction, but I personally do not see the need to call it anything other than marriage. It isn’t about sex. It’s about being legally bound to live respectable lives together and abundantly partake in all its benefits as provided for by the law. It should not be a question of morality, it should not be a question of faith, it is a matter of the law. It’s about human rights. Members of the LGBT do not shout for equality because of a supreme being they believe in. They fight for equality because they know it is their right.

Why would same-sex couples want to be married?

Marriage, of course, is a legal contract between spouses that establishes both rights and responsibilities. Imagine this: you love another person but you cannot marry them – it will not be recognized by your nation’s laws. You are not next of kin and your law says that you can never be. You can claim the love of your life as your “special other,” your “other half,” your “partner,” whatever you want to… but never “husband” or “wife” – at least not legally. You can have someone at your side and you can build a life together, but you cannot legally claim that life as mutually yours. It won’t be allowed since our Family Code states “legal Capacity of contracting parties who must be a male and a female” as a requisite to marriage. Even if they vow to live together, observe mutual love, respect, and fidelity, and render mutual help and support; same-sex couples will not be legally allowed to do that. So, they call for equality – for the right to marital tax deduction, social security benefits, legal decision-making, health insurance, inheritance, and leave benefits among others.

Why are there people being offended by this cry for equality? Is it because their sense of morality is being challenged? Is it because it goes against their religion or personal beliefs? Why does anyone’s faith have to matter in a dialogue about human rights – about the law?

One phrase: separation of church and state. Although predominantly Christian/Catholic, the Philippines is still a democratic, constitutional republic, and no matter what faith you have or what supreme being you serve, it is the rule of law that governs the nation. Let the teachings of your faith dictate how you live. But keep in mind that not all people have the same faith as yours. Haven’t you stopped to think how disrespectful it is to think that your faith should be the basis of our law?

“It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” (Paulo Coelho)

I grew up being acquainted with different people with different belief systems and/or different religions. I studied for ten years in a Christian school, and I had a lot of friends in college with different religious beliefs. A lot of my friends are Christians, Muslims, members of the INC, Mormons, etc. I grew to respect all of them, never judging them for their personal faith, and actually admiring them for their firm beliefs and their adherence to whatever teachings their faith has. My friends can attest to this. I respect everyone the same and my only basis for this is the way they respect others. That simple. I respect people if they are respectable, and I still try if they are not. I am not just trying to sound good, but isn’t that exactly what we all should do? Be respectable and respect others? Or at least live and let live?  Is it really that hard to do that?

Fact check: The world does not revolve around you and your beliefs. You may hold yours as the ultimate truth, but not everyone does. The moment you understand that will be the moment we can all live together in peace. So, why not be someone who draws a line between personal beliefs and respect for others? A grandiose sense of self-worth and/or superiority masked as concern is irksome. If you are genuinely concerned, state your opinions all you want but let them be just that: opinions. Let your faith be your faith, your beliefs be your beliefs. Under no circumstance should you impose it on others. That is just rude.

On Manny Pacquiao…

I admire him for his firmness on his faith and personal beliefs, but really, his words were pretty condemning. The “no condemning” part came as an afterthought – one that does not even follow what he had already said. But I won’t call him out for his opinion as that’s his. I’m not even mad at him. If anything, I’m thankful that he opened up space for discussion about this.

He does not deserve what’s being thrown at him, yes. That is my opinion and I firmly believe in that. Regardless if he’s a national hero or a regular citizen, he does not deserve this much hate for only having said what he said. Manny’s words were based on his beliefs. He may have offended others but there is clearly no intention to do so. Two things that I cannot take: people who attack his person and people who cannot tell the difference between mocking Manny and resenting his words.

Personally, I am not offended by what he said; I am offended by what I understood from it: that should he become a legislator, he would base decisions for the entire nation (one of widely varied religious denominations) largely on his faith. Yes, personal beliefs will always factor in anyone’s decision making. However, public officials serve the state (its public) and not only their church, so they should uphold the separation of the two. But of course, that’s easier said than done – even if that’s the law.

On Karen Davila…

I adore her. She’s well-versed, really informed, opinionated, and smart. For her controversial interview with Alma Moreno, she was lauded by the masses, with some only barely berating her for being too aggressive. But her recent interview with Manny Pacquiao turned her into some sort of aggressor-manipulator as some people would put it. When in fact, she was being helpful in that interview not only to the voting public, but also to Pacquiao himself. She tried to make Pacquiao see the loopholes in putting one’s faith front and center in their position as a public leader. She made sure everything she said is understood, and she made sure to give Manny the time to answer and explain his thoughts. The problem with that interview is that they were going nowhere with Manny. It’s hard to have a secular argument with a man of faith. It’s harder when you are demonized for doing so – even if you have to.

On Vice Ganda, Boy Abunda, and the LGBT…

They, too, only stated their own opinions. However, the same people that support Pacquiao and ask for his opinion to be respected are the ones who cannot respect that of these people. And they are the same ones who cry foul over double standard. Seriously?

Common sense?

By all means, vote for whoever you want to vote for. Just please stop thinking that the law – the one that should govern the whole nation and all its people – should follow whatever holy book you have. Not everyone follows your religion, not everyone believes in your supreme being, but everyone’s rights should be upheld and protected by the LAW. The right to marriage is basic human rights and therefore, it should be afforded to EVERY HUMAN – no exception. But for our Family Code to be amended is a wish I would not afford myself. Just seeing selfish, bigoted, hateful comments about this issue banishes all hope of that happening.

Just understand this: We do not ask to get married on your churches or whatever place of worship you have. We do not ask that your ministers bind us in ‘holy matrimony.’ We do not even ask that you recognize or respect our marriage. But THE LAW MUST. We need the law to be all-encompassing. We need to live in a country where the law grants us the same rights and the same benefits as it does to everyone else.

We do not demand your acceptance. We do not need your understanding. And if respect and regard for others are so hard for you to grasp, then we ask for your common sense.

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(Photo by Adelle M. Banks)
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