Solon confident objections to bill will go away with Pope’s support for same-sex civil union

Published October 22, 2020, 4:20 PM

by Ben Rosario

Bagong Henerasyon partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera is confident objections against her bill allowing civil union for same-sex couples will finally melt away following Pope Francis’ declaration of support for same-sex civil marriages.

However, a bill filed by former speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez requires “civil partnership ceremony” that may and may not follow religious rights akin to wedding.

Herrera filed House Bill 1357 or the proposed “Civil Partnership Act” recognizing civil partnership of couples, regardless of sex, and providing their rights and obligations under the pact.

However, unlike HB 2264 filed by Alvarez, HB 1357 merely requires couples to personally appear before the notary public to prove that “consent is freely given.”

While the Pontiff did not declare anything about gay marriage in the documentary “Francesco,” he was nonetheless vocal in supporting passage of civil union laws to protect them legally.

Pope Francis said: “We have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”

Herrera said the Pope’s statement raised hopes for the passage of a civil partnership bill in the country.

“I am now hopeful that the two bills on civil partnership, HB 1357 and HB 2264, pending at the Committee on Women and Gender Equality will finally move forward after being dormant for so long,” said Herrera.

Alvarez originally filed the so-called same sex marriage bill during the 17th Congress when he was still the speaker.

Despite strongly pushing for action on the bill, Alvarez failed to convince majority of House members to support the measure. 

The bill never went past committee approval, apparently due to the objections aired by the Catholic Church.

Unlike Alvarez’s legislative proposal, HB 1357 does not contain a provision that practically legalizes same sex marriage but without requiring specific religious rite or form.

HB 2264 provides that persons lawfully authorized to solemnize marriages under the Family Code may also be authorized to administer the civil partnership ceremony.

Herrera said that with no less than the Pope Francis acknowledging the need to address the rights of members of the LGBT community in connection with their property rights, inheritance, intestate interests, opposition to the bill is expected to die down.

“It aims to be a landmark effort to provide civil rights, benefits, and responsibilities to couples, previously unable to marry, by giving them due recognition and protection from the State,” she explained.

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

The bill gives recognition to civil partnership between two persons who will be bound by the obligations and responsibilities and enjoy the protections and benefits of the law.