That phrase broke the Internet when word got out that the US Supreme Court had made a historic ruling in the case of Obergefell vs Hodges recognizing the right of same-sex couples to marry under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. Facebook, Twitter and other social media were abuzz with rainbow-colored jubilation. Never mind that the ruling was not unanimous, the message was clear: Love wins.
This, of course, is not the first victory in the quest to legalize same-sex marriage. Eighteen other countries have recognized the right of LGBT to get married before America did. But what makes the US ruling resonate the way it is doing is the fact that America has always lauded itself as the land of the free, where women and men are created equal. Often, though, civil rights violations are committed in America that go against this very declaration, including the fact that before the ruling, most states still banned same-sex marriage. Obergefell vs Hodges manifests that US society is giving life to the words of its forefathers that every person, regardless of race, religion, or gender, has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed, it is the single most important civil rights ruling of the US high court in our generation.
Filipinos celebrated with America in its victory. We know that the same victory is not yet welcome on our soil, but we celebrated still. After all, love always wins.
A petition was recently filed asking our Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the Family Code provisions that essentially disallow same-sex marriage. Although many express concern about the legal standing of the petitioner, lawyer Jesus Falcis, to file the case, many others are hopeful that it will usher in the enlightenment we need as a society regarding this issue. Whatever our high court’s ruling on Falcis’ petition, it will guide us in our fight to make marriage available to all.
Procreation. That’s what critics of same-sex marriage have been using in this fight for equality. I once attended a Mass where the priest “preached” that same-sex marriage goes against God’s teachings because God created marriage for people to procreate: “These people cannot procreate, so why should they be allowed to get married?” It took all my strength not to grimace or walk out. Where is love in this equation? Just last month the world celebrated the love of “the oldest newlyweds” who tied the knot at ages 103 and 91, after 27 years of dating. Surely they can no longer procreate. Does that make their love and marriage any less valid and less blessed? Should they have been prohibited to say “I do” because they can no longer contribute to the world population?
In the same vein, if a young couple who know they are incapable of having children decide nonetheless to legalize their union through marriage, should they be refused because love is not enough to create a family with children, even adopted ones, and they must produce offspring from their own flesh and blood to be qualified to get married? Should procreation be the be-all and end-all of marriage?
At dinner with friends recently, I told one who is gay that I will not get married until he has the right to get married in this country. We just laughed about it. I know that he has not considered getting married. Or should he decide to do so, maybe he can go to those countries that allow same-sex marriage and tie the knot there. But what a shame to have your own country not recognize your union with the person you love just because the two of you are of the same sex. It is just awful to have to fly to another land just to declare that you take each other in holy matrimony because your own land looks down upon the love you share. A just society is one where, should my friend finally decide to marry the person he loves, he has the right to do so. Alas, that society is not ours.
We often take for granted the rights we enjoy. In my work, I have read hundreds of petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage. And I have realized that there are so many people who marry for the most pathetic reasons: out of whim, to save face. And when the marriage collapses, they rip each other apart just to be free of the other.
So those of us who have the right to marry in this country, let us not abuse it and realize that not everyone is as blessed as we are. Let us not make a mockery of the institution because so many others may not even see the day that they will be allowed to exercise that right.
Marry for the right reasons. May those reasons be “love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” as the US high court’s ruling said. May our LGBT friends who have the right reasons to marry be allowed to do so, too. May love also win in our country.
Gianna Corrine D. de Jesus, 27, is associate solicitor at the Office of the Solicitor General.
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