- Posted May 10, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Same-sex marriage: Civil right vs. states' rights
Partners in life
Philippine laws do not recognize same sex marriage as the Roman Catholic Church might condemn and label sex marriage as demonic, evil and other earthly- but no force could stop these two women from expressing their love for each other- Elizabeth and Grace (not their real names to protect their privacy and their loved ones) as they braved all odds and went to celebrate their wedding held in one of Panglao’s beautiful beaches.
Elizabeth and Grace are aware that their wedding is not legal in the Philippines, but the two believe that when the two people who make the pledge to love each other has binding force and effect equal to that of a law.
They believe that even if there is no law, when two people who love each other, decide to live together there is no law who can put them asunder.
Grace had a troubled marriage with her estranged husband for years. Grace found Elizabeth as her knight on the shining armor. They got reprisals from their parents, siblings and friends. But the more they persecuted them, the more Elizabeth and Grace love each other. Until one day, Elizabeth realized she needed to marry Grace.
But why marry? They thought that once they wanted a family and they wished their friends would recognized them as couple.
Like the wedding of the heterosexuals, the rite was the way of saying “you have been part of us.” They believe that lesbians and gays are human beings created by the same God who created the heterosexuals.
What about public sensibilities? They said, they’re not hurting people. They could commit to each other and exchange our vows in public and celebrate wedding in a form and substance that is consistent with been the practice of the heterosexuals.
They agreed to tell their friends about their plans. Some of them laughed, others dismissed it as impossible and others were excited for them. Those who were not against of their relationship, Elizabeth and Grace called them “Community of Hearts (commonly used to people who have open hearts).”
The wedding couldn’t base in the Roman Catholic rites or in the civil weddings. The church and the law don’t sanction it. So they asked Tonette Lopez, the first transgender woman activist in the Philippines and a popular Asian LGBT activist, researcher and journalist and head of Gay Human Rights Movement (Gahum) Philippines, a non-government organization, to officiate the wedding.
They considered legalities, too. Same sex is not legal. But it is not illegal either. There is no law and no provisions of the Revised Penal Code which punish people who have entered it same sex marriage and those who witnessed it.
On their wedding day, the weather wasn’t fine. The skies were sick and it rained heavily for two hours before the wedding. When Tonette explained the purpose of the wedding, the weather became fine and the moon that hid from the dark clouds suddenly appeared. They called it magic or approval from the Divine.
It was already past 8 in the evening when wedding was over. Elizabeth and Grace were the happiest people on earth after they exchanged their vows.
That union of two women was in April 2005. That was my first time to witness same sex marriage although there are same sex marriages held in Baguio and Cebu City in the past few years.
Elizabeth and Grace are still living together after their marriage in April 2005. Two gay marriages between two men were held in 2009 in same place where Elizabeth and Grace got married.
Tonette Lopez died on May 2, 2006 a year after she led the 16th International AIDS Conference in 2005.
Tonette once said, “Discrimination is very eminent. A country such ours, which is predominantly Roman Catholic is very difficult. Opinions and decisions are always coiled and intertwined with one's religiosity, belief and faith.”