“Because love is love and we should celebrate it and encourage it always. The world is harsh enough” said Lara Ryan of Sydney, Australia in her viral Facebook post after her wife Elise, died last Feb. 9. Elise was walking their four year-old daughter home from day care when a car hit her in what seemed to be an accident. This tragedy happened just weeks after Elise gave birth to their second girl.
The couple had been content in their life together as a family for 10 years. They had been detached from political aspect of marriage equality because they had no problems with being a lesbian couple—well, until Elise’s untimely death. Lara, in her own words, now has to deal with a lot of difficulties emanating from the fact that theirs was not a heterosexual relationship and their marriage is not deemed legal. Lara has since spoken out in favor of same-sex marriage.
Here at home, I know of a gay couple who had been together in a loving, happy relationship for more than 20 years. They had built a nest together and had been content with life. Even their families had been supportive, they could not ask for more. The couple were already in their 50s when one of them suffered a heart attack and passed away. This started the hell that the one who was left behind had to endure.
Family members of the one who died turned mean. The home that the couple built together was contested with the family asserting their rights to it. My friend wanted to stay because not only did he invest his money on the house, it was there that their happiest years were spent. Unfortunately, he did not have the means to buy the family out of their “share.” His partner’s kin decided to move in and make life extremely hard for him. It came to a head and my friend decided to leave his house after sometime. He lost the love of his life and the right to the home they built together.
These sad life stories are not uncommon in the LGBT community. Discrimination of many forms happen day in and day out. And why? Solely because people learn to love and decide to have relationships with those of the same sex. They are punished because in the eyes of some, they fell in love with the “wrong” persons.
Like Lara, it is easy for many to keep quiet on issues and problems that do not directly affect them. We only realize how difficult things are when we suffer because of the very same problems that we think we are immune from. Then we act.
Marriage equality is one of these problems. How unfortunate that many societies impose what is largely a religious dogma on all citizens. How unfair that we are dictated even in terms of whom we can love and have a relationship with. It is a matter of right that each person is able to freely decide on matters of love, relationships, families without intrusion and/or coercion, certainly without being discriminated against by society in terms of selective application of laws.
How easy for those like senatorial candidate Manny Pacquiao to pass judgment and call members of the LGBT community names because he is not affected but wants to impose his religious beliefs on everyone.
How sad that people of the Catholic Church like retired Bishop Oscar Cruz can easily say that the church cannot accept same-sex marriage but does not have a problem with marriage between a gay man and a lesbian because the possibility of procreation remains. I cannot understand why these men who are not allowed to have sexual relationships have the power to impose on others their beliefs on sex and relationships.
Why cannot people of the church understand that a law on marriage equality should not be a problem for them because it pertains to civil law and does not have anything to do with their Church? After all, the Constitutional provisions on separation of church and State is quite clear: there cannot be a State religion. Why does the Catholic Church think and act as if it is a State religion?
Love is love. It is a universal feeling that excites, makes people happiest to the point of having relationships and in most cases founding families. Why should it matter whom one learns to love? Why should people have different rights under the law depending on who they love and have relationships with? This is a clear case of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
Marriage equality is also fast becoming a class issue. Change in marriage laws in other countries has given Filipinos in same sex relationships with the means, the opportunity to marry elsewhere. Naturally, this is something that cannot be done by those who are not rich. Take the cases of Aiza Seguerra, Charice Pempengco, Monique Wilson, Jon Santos, and John Silva to name a few. I have friends who have done the same. They are lucky when in the first place, the capacity to marry should not be determined by one’s economic status.
That is why the Quezon City Council’s almost passage of a pro-LGBT ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on Sogie is a very welcome development. Dubbed as the “gender-fair” city ordinance, it protects LGBT rights in the workplace, schools, even in accessing basic services. While this is not yet about marriage equality, this definitely is a huge step in the right direction. Quezon City has done what Congress failed to do in terms of enacting an anti-discrimination law.
This local law, if successfully implemented, will remove Sogie-based barriers and discriminatory practices. Congress should follow suit. Eventually, a marriage equality law should be enacted.
Because love is love and should not cause discrimination and inequality.
@bethangsioco on Twitter.
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