Hilbay: Same-sex marriage should be fought in Congress, not Supreme Court

MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial aspirant Florin Hilbay said he believes that same-sex couples have the right to marry, but that the fight must be taken to Congress and not in the Supreme Court where there is a pending petition.

“I think it should be confronted at the legislative level, not at the Supreme Court level, there’s also a tactical perspective to it, if you think you’re not gonna get that decision from the Supreme Court then why file before the Supreme Court?” Hilbay said during a Rappler interview for #TheLeaderIWant series.

Hlbay is running for the 2019 senatorial elections under the Oposisyon Koalisyon slate.

Hilbay was the solicitor general in 2015 when gay lawyer Jesus Falcis filed the petition before the High-Court. Hilbay represented the impleaded party, the civil registrar, and asked the Court to dismiss the petition.

Hilbay said it’s because he believes that the petition was procedurally defective. It’s also the belief of a number of justices, which they indicated during oral arguments last June. (READ: Same-sex marriage: Flawed petition or unready Court?)

Hilbay said he supports the legal view that the provisions in the Family Code that limit a marriage to a man and a woman only violate the equal protection clause.

“Family code should be amended, that’s why my position is it should be legislative,” Hilbay said.

Hilbay is of the view that addressing the issue through Congress would be more inclusive, as it would engage stakeholders and communicate the basic principle of advocates that same-sex marriage is not a threat to the family or even marriage as an institution.

“There’s a timing element to it, it’s a legal question also, but there’s a broader political game here, which is to convince everybody that equality is a principle na kailangang tayaan ng lahat (that we all need to bet on),” said  Hilbay.

President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his leanings towards favoring same-sex marriage, which his ally, former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has pushed for via a civil union bill.

In the Supreme Court, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said during oral arguments that a civil union is constitutional because of the freedom of association. It means any two people is free to associate or to contract with each other, which would result in same-sex couples enjoying the same legal rights and status as heterosexual married couples/

Calling it "union" instead of "marriage" seems to be a popular compromise among groups within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI). It would grant them the same civil rights, but it would reduce the opposition of conservatives who don't want to call it a marriage. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.