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Say I do

I’ve been wanting to devote a column to the happy betrothal of Harry Windsor and Meghan Markle.  The Prince and the Showgirl was long overdue for a reboot—the last was between Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly, the glacier-cool heroine of many a Hitchcock film.  Cupid tinkered a bit with the casting this time because the bride-to-be isn’t white, she isn’t noble-born, she isn’t English and she isn’t Church of England.  But she is pretty and Buckingham could use some color and the two appear madly in love, which is what counts.  Yet it seems insensitive to swoon over a fairy-tale couple based overseas, not when the country is mired in controversies involving the suspicious purchase of vaccines that can do more harm than good, not when the second impeachment of a Chief Justice looms, and not when peace negotiations between the government and the Left have ground to a halt.

Thank God for Rodrigo Duterte.  Say what you will about this President, but he can always be counted on to give good copy; the man is every reporter’s best friend.  And what has he got to say this time?  Consider it an early Christmas gift for same-sex couples everywhere.  Before an assembly of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender folks, known colorfully as the Community, the President said that he would support same-sex marriages.  Who was he, he said, to stand in the way of whatever made other people happy.  Times have changed, he acknowledged, the old morality doesn’t work anymore and if the law needs to be changed—meaning the Family Code—then the law will be changed.

Now, hold on to your confetti and before you start pelting our Dear Leader with rice, be warned though that he’s been AC-DC on the topic. In 2015, he told Vice Ganda that he believes same-sex marriages are “good” because everyone deserves to be happy.  Then, last March, he flip-flopped and told Filipinos in Myanmar that same-sex marriages are a Western concept which should not be imposed on Filipinos who are, after all Roman Catholic.  Now we have the latest bulletin from Davao.

It’s a good thing that he did not make those statements under oath. For the record, I do not think that he thinks he is lying.  He merely believes what he says at the time.  And what he says at the time depends on who is listening to him at the time.  If he is speaking before the LGBT community, then he will believe himself when he says that he favors same-sex marriages.  When he speaks before a hetero crowd, then he will believe himself when he says that he is against gay marriages because the law states that marriage is a special contract of union between a man and a woman.  Either way, he is guaranteed applause in the end after telling some poor saps what they wanted to hear.

Now which orientation of the President do we believe?  I’ve always adhered to the school of evidence of being shown the beef.  I will only start believing once a bill is filed in Congress and certified by Malacañang as priority legislation, enacted without delay then signed into law by the President himself.  Should the constitutionality of such a law be questioned before the Supreme Court, then he will exercise all the powers of his office to ensure that the 15 Justices all fall into line.  He will back the initiative all the way through to the finish line whatever religious conservatives may throw in his way.

It is as plain as day that he won’t, though.  As a sideshow to the main attraction, he promised to give a position in his Cabinet to the nominee of the LGBT community.  We have heard that before.  He indeed gave the portfolios of Agrarian Reform and Social Welfare to Rafael Mariano and Judy Taguiwalo yet when the two faced the Commission on Appointments, he left them to twist and turn in the wind, and it was an arctic wind blowing.  Pity the well-meaning fool who takes up Duterte on his offer.

Amid the uproar that the President’s comments have roused, the Church demands that it be heard even though what is clearly being talked about are civil marriages.  The Church has no place setting on the negotiating table.  It doesn’t, end of argument, period.  Separation of Church and State means that the Roman Catholic hierarchy cannot intrude on purely secular matters and, in turn, the government cannot tell the Church what to preach. Everyone knows where the Church stands on the issue, duly noted, moving on.  The only thing that needs to be discussed is why banning same-sex marriages violates the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights.  That’s it.

Why should the law be allowed to stand in the way?  Laws are made by people, and therefore, laws can be changed by them. G

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