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LGBT Fil Ams await US high court decision on same-sex marriage

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Jaime Geaga and Gary Rhodes, his partner of 30 years, worked on fundraisers for No on 8 Campaign

SAN FRANCISCO—From the way media here are covering two same-sex marriage cases in the US Supreme Court and from statements of certain high court justices, it seems Jaime Geaga and his partner of 30 years, Gary Rhodes, “are getting closer to achieving equal rights as a same-sex couple,” Geaga, a Los Angeles resident, beams.

Since the last week of March, the world has been riveted on two marriage equality cases before the US Supreme Court that could overturn California’s Proposition 8, which bans same sex-marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that deprives married same-sex couples of federal benefits enjoyed by heterosexual spouses.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to announce its decision in June, an event that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) members of the Filipino community will be watching closely.

“For two days in late March, I kept abreast of the international coverage by tuning in to CNN, MSNBC, BBC World, Al Jazeera, and PBS newscasts from Berlin and France,” says Geaga, a fundraiser for the Vote No on Proposition 8 campaign and volunteer at the LGBT Center in LA He also founded the Filipino Task Force on AIDS in 1987 that served Filipinos with HIV and AIDS in San Francisco for 16 years.

Change in public opinion

Recent polls indicated a momentous shift in public opinion since Proposition 8 was passed in California in 2008.  The Reuters/Ipsos Poll reported that 63 percent of Americans are now in favor of gay marriage or civil unions.  The ABC News and Washington Post poll found that a staggering number of young people, 81 percent among ages 18-29, support same-sex marriage, while 58 percent of adults also support marriage equality.

Rodel Rodis, a San Francisco attorney and president of US Pinoys for Good Governance, was not surprised by the favorable polls.  He says, “These figures show that it is just a matter of time before the country fully embraces the concept.  There are Filipino community leaders and business owners in the Bay Area who are openly gay.  My sons have many friends who are openly gay, so this is not even an issue for their generation.  I’m hopeful that the Supreme Court will declare both Proposition 8 and DOMA unconstitutional.”

Same-sex wedding

Hope is something that Pat Yadao and Liz Ermitano have held on to tightly since they started a relationship 15 years ago.  Both surgical nurses at the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame, they’ve joined missions to the Philippines that provide free medical services.

Yadao comes from a liberal family and did not have any problems coming out.  Ermitano’s parents and nine older siblings were more conservative and took some time getting to know Pat and the couple’s commitment to each other.  When Ermitano finally told her parents that she had decided to be with Yadao, her father looked her in the eye and said, much to her surprise, “You’re an adult, if you think this is what you want in your life, by all means, I support you.”

On Nov. 4, 2008, a sunny autumn day in San Francisco, Yadao and Ermitano got married at the San Francisco City Hall, a date that they both described as historical.  Yadao notes, “Barack Obama was elected president on that day and it was the last day that same-sex marriage was legal in California before Proposition 8’s ban was enforced.”  Ermitano’s 85-year-old widowed mother was by their side as they said their vows, also witnessed by several members of their families and friends, while activists for same-sex marriage were demonstrating outside the building, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Homophobia in PH

As more and more people from prominent sectors of US society–from President Obama and members of Congress to heads of corporations to artists, entertainers and athletes–are now openly expressing their support for same-sex marriage, Filipino Americans are lamenting how homophobia is still alive and well in the Philippines.

Bino Realuyo, a Fil-Am author and blogger for the Huffington post, wrote that a 1991 survey showed that “82 percent of respondents across the Philippines said sexual relations between two adults of the same sex was always wrong…16 years later, the number had hardly changed…”  One of the reasons that Realuyo and many others ascribe for this position is the influence of the Catholic Church.

CNN’s March 12, 2010 report on the entry into the Philippine election of Ladlad Party, the world’s only LGBT political party, quoted Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, Jr. saying, “Personally, I’m not in favor of the party, because it’s a group that’s of abnormal human persons, according to what we accept as the order that the Creator has made for human persons.”  The Church, however, is not homogeneous in this view as there are rank and file members who are quietly expressing their opposition to this homophobia.

A Northern California Filipino priest, who has been with his religious order for 40 years and ministers to OFWs internationally, says that whenever his parishioners ask him about same-sex marriage they are taken aback by his response that he is for it.

“I use such occasions to raise their consciousness by reminding them that according to the Scriptures, we were all made in the image and likeness of God and therefore that includes people from the LGBT community,” he states.  “Marriage must be available to two persons who love each other and want to proclaim their love to the world,” he adds.

Married in Canada

That’s what Ces Rosales, a graphic designer and the Northern California Vice Chair of the Women’s Caucus of the California Democratic Party, did when she married

Sue Ferrera, her partner of 28 years, at a well-attended wedding in 2005 in Canada, which legalized same-sex marriage that year.

Rosales and Ferrera had been on the forefront of the No on 8 Campaign in Berkeley, where they live.  Rosales, who is an elected delegate to the California Democratic Party, believes that the upcoming US Supreme Court decisions will be a milestone in the fight for marriage equality.  “It is a matter of human rights to treat people equally under the law.  Ironically, although we pay taxes that allow benefits to heterosexual couples, we are not able to avail of them,” she says.

When asked how she would feel if the challenges to Proposition 8 and DOMA lost in court, Rosales was sanguine in her response, belying her many years as an activist in the anti-Marcos and women’s movements.  “Whether the naysayers like it or not, we’re here to stay and continue leading our happy lives.  If we don’t get our legal rights this time, we will keep fighting until the LGBT community achieves equality,” Rosales states.

Although the union of Yadao and Ermitano remains valid because it was held before the Proposition 8 ban, the continuing discrimination against the LGBT community does not give them comfort.  They’re still deprived of over a thousand federal benefits because of DOMA, and their marriage is diminished by the persistent legal challenges of Proposition 8 proponents, although the Ninth District Court of Appeals had already declared the measure unconstitutional.

Yadao states, “If anything happens to me, I want Liz to get all the protections and rights entitled to her as my spouse.  When Proposition 8 and DOMA are finally struck down, that will be the happiest day of my life.”


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Tags: civil rights , Same-sex marriage , sexual politics , U.S. court decisions , U.S. Supreme Court

  • Dirk Baeten

    opposing homosexual behavior is of course not homophobia, but plain and simple common sense .. homosexual behavior is objectively disordered and opposing it is therefore not irrational, which means that it cannot be phobia to condemn it.. any intelligent person should know this, but slogans and emotions have nowadays often taken over public discourse when it comes to these so-called equal rights for gay people.. an interesting article about the correlation with the sexual revolution can be found here http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/why-we-will-lose-the-gay-marriage-debate

  • wawa2172

    Same sex marriage…ewwww, kaloka ito, kadiri. Tamaan sana kayo nang kidlat at maging bato tulad sa Sodom at Gomorrah.

    • kanoy

      ??>>> Filipino Americans are lamenting how homophobia is still alive and well in the Philippines.

      WHO ARE THEY KIDDING? HOMOSEXUALS ARE FLAUNTING IT EVERYWHERE YOU GO IN THE RP

      they got hair dressers at SM those look like but are not women in tight dresses high heels and daytime make up those are guys,,,go to watch tv movies radio? gay gay gay Manila got plenty of gay bars look on the net PINK CLUB CLUB 690 GAY DISCO O Bar in Malate has been keeping the rainbow flying in Manila for more
      than 5 years. This popular dance bar is particularly busy on Friday and
      Saturday nights. Expect regular drag queen performances and hunky
      go-go dancers.Second branch of the ever popular O Bar in Malate. Expect plenty of
      fun, reasonably-priced drinks and a daily show of drag queens and go-go
      dancers. Busiest on Friday and Saturday.
      Homosexuality is increasingly being tolerated in the Philippines.
      However this tolerance is tempered by the strong influence of the
      Catholic church and macho culture. Most Filipinos appear to be
      comfortable with gays as long as they fit to certain stereotypes and
      behave according to accepted, non-threatening norms. There is a vibrant
      gay scene in the Philippines with several bars, clubs and saunas in
      Manila as well as various gay rights organizations. Homosexual relations
      between consenting adults in private are not a crime. Although sexual
      conduct or affection that occurs in public may be subject to the “grave
      scandal” prohibition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/halsula Harrisson Banua-Go Alsula

    All men are created equal, so it is just proper that they should all have equal rights.

    • DGuardian

      The so-called equal rights of men are limited by the Ten Commandments of God. Life is a gift and blessing from God. Any deviation from the Divine Providence and from the purpose for which man was created is a transgression of God’s laws and the code of morality, which our Creator has imposed on mankind.

      • kanoy

        UMMMM WHICH COMMANDMENT USING GODS WORDS VERBATIM WHICH MEANS YOU NEITHER ADD NOR REMOVE ANY WORD SHOW US VERBATIM WHICH OF THE 10 COMMANDMENTS THAT SAYS ”ONLY A MAN AND A WOMAN MAY MARRY” THE CLOSEST YOU CAN GET TO MARRIAGE IS ADULTERY WHAT IS IT?

        You shall have no other gods before me.
        WALK INTO ANY CATHOLIC CHURCH WHAT DO YOU SEE?
        You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down (MARY) to them nor serve them (BLACK JESUS) For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
        You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
        Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, NOR YOUR PRIEST, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
        Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
        You shall not murder.
        You shall not commit adultery.
        You shall not steal.
        You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
        You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    • $5699914

      It;s already equal…what LGBT is asking is extra-rights on top of what is already there just to accommodate their whims and wants.

  • Cue_Vas

    One area where PH is still better than US.

    • kanoy

      SON QUIT FOOLING YOURSELF WITH YOUR ”FOX AND GRAPES” MENTALITY THERE ARE NO AREAS THE RP IS BETTER THAN ANYONE….UNLESS YOU ARE A RP LAWMAKER IN THE COUNTRY WITH THE HIGHEST MURDER RATE IN ASIA WHERE 70% OF THE POPULATION OWNS A GUN A COUNTRY THAT HAS SEEN OVER 120,000 POLITICAL KILLINGS—AND BUT A HANDFUL OF CONVICTIONS AND 95% OF THEM AN INNOCENT SCRAPE GOAT–I HAVE YET TO SEE 1 KANO OFW IN THE COUNTRY THAT HAS 11 MILLION= ITS MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES— UNLESS YOU ARE A YOUNG FILIPINO LOOKING FOR A JOB– THEN ITS NOT SUCH A LAUGHING MATTER

      • Cue_Vas

        it’s safer to live in tondo than south side of chicago. that’s another thing ph is better than US.

  • DGuardian

    Marriage should be only between a man and a woman. The Almighty God has decreed it to be so.

    • kanoy

      SHOW GOD SAYING THOSE WORDS,,YOU CAN NOT FOR HE NEVER SAID THOSE WORDS THE MAN YOU SAY BROUGHT PEACE DENIES THAT JESUS SAID I BROUGHT DIVISION WHAT DOES JESUS SAY ABOUT YOUR WIFE, MAMA, PAPA, KIDS????
      KJV LUKE

      49 I am come to send fire on Earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! 51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53
      The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the
      father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the
      mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter
      in law against her mother in law. (Luke 12:49–53)

  • phantomofhope

    maryosep na kabaklaan at katomboyan yan…can you not live together w/o getting married? why the need for marriage?

    • kanoy

      IN THE RP? THEY HAVE NOTHING TO GAIN BY MARRYING IN THE US THEY HAVE EVERYTHING TO LOSE BY NOT MARRYING ,,,THE RP GOV GIVES NO ONE EXCEPT OTHER LAWMAKERS ANYTHING IN THE US THERE IS EVERYTHING MARRIED COUPLES ENJOY FOR FILING AND APPLYING FOR JOINTLY



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