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LGBT pioneer in Congress favors ‘baby steps’ in same-sex marriage


By Ben Rosario

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, the first transgender to become member of Congress, slammed fellow members of the LGBT community for asking the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage.

Congresswoman Geraldine Roman (Federico Cruz / Manila Bulletin)

Congresswoman Geraldine Roman (Federico Cruz / Manila Bulletin)

As a group of LGBT members prepare for their next SC oral argument, Roman urged the so-called advocates of same-sex marriage to “take baby steps” in pursuing the goal, stressing that passage of a bill proposing recognition of civil partnership of same-sex couples may achieve the goal.

“I believe in taking baby steps, moving forward slowly. We are not yet in that stage of amending the law,” Roman told a radio interview on Wednesday.

LGBT rights advocates are asking the High Court to declare unconstitutional the Family Code’s definition of marriage as a legally recognized union of a man and a woman.

The High Court conducted the first oral argument of the legal issue on Tuesday, with several justices zeroing in their interpellation of the petitioners to the need for a congressional action to amend Family Code.

Interpellating petitioner Jesus Falcis III, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro noted that allowing same-sex marriage would only trigger a number of legal complications that only Congress can address.

On the other hand, Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza called Falcis’ attention to a pending Lower House bill that proposes recognition of civil union of persons of the same sex.

Jardeleza was referring to House Bill 6595 that proposes the recognition of civil partnerships of same-sex couples and granting them the rights to adopt children, social security and insurance, and legal inheritance.

Authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and several other lawmakers, including Roman, HB 6595 or the proposed Civil Partnership Act provides civil rights benefits and responsibilities to couples who are unable to marry.

“It is about time that the Philippine government grants couples, whether they are of the opposite or the same sex, adequate legal instruments to recognize their partnerships, respecting their dignity and recognizing their equality before the law,” said Alvarez.

In the radio interview, Roman called on LGBT rights advocates not to rock the boat insofar as the bid for same-sex marriage is concerned.

“Whether we like it or not marriage is defined as a ssocial union of a man and a woman. It is different from a civil partnership but when it comes to legal rights and protection, they are the same,” she said.

She said Congress should be given the chance to pass HB 6595.

The administration lawmaker said the SC petition that questioned the constitutionality of the Family Code might be “counter productive”, stressing that an adverse SC decision could set back the marriage equality advocacy.

“If you look at the example of other countries, these countries started with (legalization) civil partnership and did not immediately accept the concept of same sex marriage,” Roman explained.

The next oral argument on the LGBT petition is set on June 26.

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