Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Liberal-for-Everyone-Except-Gays Party

Joseph 'Happily-ever-after' Abaya
The Secretary General of the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LP), Joseph Emilio Abaya, says that while gays can live together as a couple, they should not be allowed to enjoy the rights and privileges guaranteed by the Philippine Family Code.

Abaya, who is the second-term Representative of Cavite's 1st District and is the great grandson of the Philippines' first president Emilio Aguinaldo, went on to say that gay couples can "live happily ever after," but mustn't insist on having equal rights like "normal" married couples.

"They are just not entitled to the rights and privileges of being married," he said.  "Same sex marriage is violative of the law since the Family Code provides that marriage is always between man and a woman."  Ergo, Abaya supports that same-sex unions of any kind are both illegal and unconstitutional.

What is most despicable in his statement, is his opinion that such couples must hush up and stop insisting on having equal rights like "normal" couples.  You vile gay people, how dare you ask to be treated as equal citizens under the constitution?!  How dare you stand up for your rights?!  You must learn your place, stay out of sight, out of mind, and be quiet!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What the Baguio Brouhaha has Shown Us

They really think this helps??
If the June same-sex commitment ceremony held in Baguio City showed us anything, it showed that the Philippines still has an incredibly long way to go on matters of LGBT rights.  Not just on marriage equality, but even on the most basic level of understanding and tolerance.

The threads of comments that appeared on Philippine online newspapers, in tweets, and even on this very blog, were a taste of the vitriol that still exists at the grassroots level.  Many were downright cruel and amounted to anonymous online gay-bashing; some were statements based on ignorance, coming from people who genuinely just don't know any better.  Some were based on fiercely held personal religious convictions that people are entitled to, and are unlikely to change.

Upon reading, hearing, and seeing the reactions of the likes of bishops Cenzon, Cruz, and Bacani, I was neither surprised nor impressed.  If all they can do is hurl insults at their fellow man (such as calling LGBTs and straight Christians who support them "mentally defective" and "abnormal," and calling simple commitment ceremonies "kadiri" (gross)), they make themselves look far worse and childish than my words ever could.  But when I heard two members of the Baguio City Council publicly chastising the couples, watched them sign their names on an "anti-same-sex marriage petition," and then read of the Council's investigative steps to declare the same-sex couples involved as persona non gratae (unwelcome persons) within Baguio, I was sickened.  I literally had a sick feeling in my gut.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Science of "Born This Way"

Scientifically, Gaga got it right
Conservative Christians and Muslims have had their knickers in a bunch (and have pushed themselves into a corner) over their objections to Lady Gaga's song Born This Way.

It goes beyond the immature reactions of censoring the pro-gay lyrics on the radio (as authorities in Malaysia have done), or the clipping out of that same section on the Philippine-based music channel, Channel V.  There have also been the cleverly cheesy "Not Born This Way" op eds, blog pieces, and sermons disseminated by some Evangelical Christians, and certain politicians have even jumped in the mix to assert their view that homosexuality is merely a choice.  They think they're making a good point, but what they're really doing is making themselves look foolish.

The two statements most commonly made are:  "Science is in dispute on homosexuality," and "There's no scientific conclusion that there is a gay gene."

As a biologist this certainly comes as a surprise to me, as well as to my colleagues.  I'm someone who is trained in science and genetics.  This is what I went to school for, including research in hormonal affects on brain development and sexuality.  I hate to burst any bubbles, but science, in fact, is actually not in dispute on this matter.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Courts, part 3: Why Equality is on a Winning Streak

The arguments for same-sex marriage are compelling; the arguments against it are hyped but hollow.  Pro-equality lawyers absolutely blow the anti-equality side out of the water.  We've seen this in court case after court case, from Canada to Israel, and from Brazil to Massachusetts.

The rulings consistently find that:
  1. Denying same-sex couples the right to marry serves no legitimate state interest
  2. Permitting same-sex couples to marry does not affect opposite-sex marriage, divorce, or the number of children born in marriages or outside of marriages
  3. The religious or moral views held by the majority cannot decide which rights can be either withheld or granted to a minority -- the constitution is the ultimate law of the land, not religious texts.
I love reading court transcripts from various same-sex marriage cases because they're so entertaining.  When reading them, it's easy to see why the anti-equality side crashes and burns.  Their "argument" is based on four premises:  that marriage is deeply religious and has always been between a man and a woman; that marriage will be destroyed if LGBTs get to have it too; that kids in same-sex households will be molested; and that we'll go extinct as a species.  Each of those arguments are rooted in ignorance and are easily dismantled, even by inexperienced lawyers, and show that the root cause of the opposition is fear:  fear of the unknown and fear of change.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baguio Mayor lets his Prejudice Shine through

Mayor Domogan
Baguio City Mayor, Mauricio Domogan, is publicly backing a proposed ordinance to ban same-sex union ceremonies from taking place in the city.  The ordinance is currently pending action before the Baguio City Council.

Domogan believes same-sex unions are a violation of national law, and has thrown his support behind Councilor Philian Weygan, who has filed a resolution to effectively ban future same-sex unions in Baguio.

Another Councilor, Edison Bilog, wants the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Baguio police to investigate the Metropolitan Community Church ceremony in order to decide if formal charges should be pressed.  Additionally, Councilor Elmer Datuin said Baguio is getting a reputation as the "same-sex wedding capital of the Philippines," and said it is a "horrible image for the city."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Courts, part 2: The Philippines is not Immune to Change

(A continuation from the previous post, "High Court Progress Seen in Western Nations; What About the Philippines?")

I had the opportunity to ask a respected Filipino attorney about the prospects of Filipino LGBTs going through the courts to pursue equality.  His opinion was that, at this time, there would likely be no benefit for gay and lesbian couples to sue the government for equal protection.  He highlighted the fact that, because there are no anti-discrimination laws on the books and no legal precedent to stand on from any equality cases in Philippine courts, a suit would be destined to fail.

I agree with that in part, but at the same time I am reminded of same-sex marriage cases that have been won in states in the U.S., for example, which had no anti-discrimination laws on the books.  The courts only had the Equal Protection Clause of the Bill of Rights to go on.  The Philippine Constitution has these same guarantees for its citizens.

The current Philippine Supreme Court has based several of their decisions on grounds of equal protection violations, declaring portions of certain laws to be unconstitutional because of those violations.  Yap vs Thenamaris Ship's Management in May 2011, which struck down Section 10 of R.A. 8042, is one such example, as is Biraogo vs. Philippine Truth Commission in December 2010, which struck down E.O. Number 1.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Gay Marriage Destroyed Ancient Rome! (Serio??)

» For a more detailed look at this topic, please see my more recent post:  We've Been Warned (Again): Gayness Destroyed Rome!  

The following post is in reply to an anonymous comment received on 1 July.  The comment can be viewed here.

"The gays did this!  It's all because of the gays!"
One of my pet peeves is historical inaccuracy, and I'm sorry but your comment on the Roman Empire simply isn't true.  The decline of Rome encompassed a period of about 300 years, during which time many factors contributed to its gradual dissolve.  Same-sex marriage, however, was not one of them.

At the time of the Empire's end in 476AD, same-sex marriage was actually illegal.  It had been banned since the year 342, and the penalty for entering into such a marriage was death.  By the year 390 the emperor Theodosius decreed that same-sex acts of any kind were illegal.  The punishment:  burning at the stake.

In its early days, Roman society had been more tolerant of same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriages were performed among the upper class and aristocracy.*  As the Christian Church gained more acceptance and favor in the 4th-century, however, the views of certain very strict bishops became influential -- especially after emperor Theodosius declared Christianity to be the state religion, in 380.

Friday, July 1, 2011

High Court Progress in Western Countries; What About the Philippines?

The wheels of equality turn slowly, and for no group of people is this more true than our LGBT brothers and sisters.  It's painful to listen to stories of so many kind, honest, and decent LGBT Filipinos whose only wish is to be treated like everyone else, rather than second class citizens.  I can't imagine what it must feel like to have to face such discrimination simply because of the sexuality one was born with.  Personally, I'm a straight man, and I believe gay rights and marriage equality are the civil rights movement of our time.  I'm proud to be an ardent supporter and advocate.

I have a gay cousin and I love him dearly, as well as his husband.  They had been a couple for a decade -- having been sweethearts since high school -- before getting married last year, and I'm grateful that we're from a country that gives them that right.  Unfortunately that's not possible in a lot of places around the world, including in the Philippines.  It is really heartbreaking to see so many wonderful LGBT couples being denied the basic right of marriage for no other reason than blind governmental adherence to heterosexist tradition.