No, same-sex marriage is not in the agenda of Ang Ladlad partylist. It never was, since the beginning. I don't like that one bit, but I understand why.
It's because of the religious fundamentalists, the Bible-toting angry people of cloth and their zealous judgmental followers who tell us that we are an abomination and we will ruin the sanctity of marriage if we push for the holy union between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve, they said. God hates gays, their placards said. It's not OK to be gay; it's sin, they ungrammatically protested.
Sin ka dyan. Wanna talk about sin, church peeps? Then maybe you guys should look at the controversies surrounding the Vatican priests first before condemning others you think are "less pure" than your lot. It's funny that the controversies hounding the Catholic church now are about lust (sexual molestation especially of minors), while our issues in the LGBT community mainly gravitate towards one thing "purer" than lust: love. Yes, love, because let's face it, love makes the world go round, as that song said.
Ages ago, an officemate of mine asked me why "us gays" are still pushing for same-sex marriage. She sounded frustrated as we talked. "Shouldn't living together be enough for you? Why you do want to get married?" she said. I answered by asking her the same question. "Officemate, why did you get married to your husband?" She thought for a while and looked irritated. "Because we've been together for years. We've been a couple for so long that it naturally ends there, in being married." I nodded and said, "And what else?" She pondered on and said "And I love him." I smiled. "Those are the same reasons we have, Officemate. Same as yours. It's about love. And we want to live happily ever after, in love, bound by love through marriage... like you."
See? We all have the same "agenda," regardless of our sexual orientation and gender identity. We want to fall in love. We want to be in a relationship. We want to solidify that relationship through some form of union. And we want our society to protect that love by upholding that union that binds our love.
But if leaders of our society outright condemn this kind of love and all its forms of celebration, then that is just plain sad. Years back, a couple of legislators filed bills that ensured marriage in the Philippines is only between a biological male and a biological female, and LGBT marriages done outside of the country won't be recognized here. Whatever. This is why I'm not voting for them, even if they initially expressed support for the LGBT movement in earlier years or support for the controversial reproductive health bill. So sorry Ruffy Biazon and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, this lesbian is not voting for you anymore.
I thought the pursuit of happiness is in the mandate of democratic states, but it just doesn't feel like a democracy here in the Philippines just yet, especially when it comes to the realm of marginalized populations like lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. This makes me sad sometimes, to the point of being bitter.
I guess this is why, personally, I couldn't bring myself to congratulate friends and colleagues who get married. Yes, I am such a bitter ocampo dudette when it comes to this issue. A couple of friends who recently got married documented their preparations, the celebrations and the after-stuff in digital thousands-plus photo glory. Wedding photo booths, wedding blog, prenup photo-shoot, blah blah blah. Sure, I'm happy for them that they found true love everlasting, but each time I see a happy heterosexual couple getting married, I can't help but think of a counterpart LGBT couple out there in the Philippines who have sad faces just because they cannot reach this so-called pinnacle of celebration of their love, this marriage thing. Hey, everyone deserves to be happy; why aren't we given that chance? But of course, this is not to say that I hate all straight weddings lest someone out there thinks I'm a het wedding scrooge. I guess the only time I don't feel bitter about marriages is when I see close relatives and my straight super-close friends getting married, because I know their plight and what they've been through. As for the rest... well, congrats na lang, sabay buntong-hininga. A collective sigh of frustration from the LGBT community.
When I read in the news years ago what Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt said about this issue, I kinda teared up. They said they won't get married until everyone has the right to get married, pertaining to LGBT couples. Man, what guts. I appreciate their stand, but come to think of it, they can afford not to get married anyway, because they have all the money and connections in the world to make things happen for them without the benefit of a marriage contract. For instance, they can send their kids to the school they want without the school officials demanding to see their marriage licenses (yes, some schools do that here, they turn away kids from unmarried couples/single parents). But still, I commend them for the effort.
Of course this is not to say that everyone in the LGBT community believes in marriage and want to get married. Like the straight world, we also have those who don't believe in the institution. Personally, I really believe that marriage as an institution should be reinvented in order to revitalize its tenets to have a more progressive stance. All we're saying here is that everyone should be given the right to get married if they wanted to get married. That is all -- freedom for all.
Again, no, Ang Ladlad is not pushing for same-sex marriage recognition, and that is fine. But they are pushing for the support of LGBTs in the Philippines especially when it comes to the more essential things, like livelihood and respect. I guess when those aspects are protected, then perhaps love could bloom, grow and thrive even more in our community, marriage or no marriage.
So if you believe in upholding the right of all people to recognize and celebrate their love in a non-condemning society, then please be with us in our plight to the pursuit of genuine happiness.
*Why 89: 6 of 7 is the sixth of a seven-part series of creative nonfiction narratives I am writing as a countdown to the upcoming May 10 elections in support of my partylist, Ang Ladlad.
Part 1 of 7 - The Benefit(s) of Recognition
Part 2 of 7 - The Career Closet
Part 3 of 7 - Medical Maladies, Malpractices and Mistrust
Part 4 of 7 - Equality to Party
Part 5 of 7 - Property Protection
All photos by libay linsangan cantor (1) at the Baguio Pride March June 2009 (2) foreign-led anti-gay fundamentalist protesters at the 2008 Malate LGBT Pride March (3) signs at the 2008 Malate LGBT Pride March (4) buhay bahay Halloween 2008 (5) signs at the Baguio Pride March June 2009; except (6) from Ang Ladlad's campaign materials.
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