Tag Archive | "marriage equality"

FF Podcast (Audio) 37: Would You Marry a Computer?


Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) 37 - Would You Marry A Computer?

This week, we talk about a man who is protesting against marriage equality by trying to marry his porn-infested computer.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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FF Podcast 37: Would You Marry a Computer?


This week, we talk about a man who is protesting against marriage equality by trying to marry his porn-infested computer.

 

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, VideoComments (0)

Love is Thicker Than Water (But Not True Semen)


Andy_Gibbq_(2)Former CBCP President Oscar Cruz has said that LGBT weddings are OK, but there’s a catch: Lesbians can only marry gays, gays can only marry lesbians, and the rest can only marry someone from the LGBT community if the other party has a different set of sexual organs:

May a lesbian marry a gay man? My answer is ‘yes’ because in that instance the capacity to consummate the union is there. The anatomy is there. The possibility of conception is there.

Aside from having the right pair of genitals, Cruz mentioned two other requirements for couples: capacity to consummate the union, and the possibility of conception. Many commented with the same questions: What about love? Is marriage just about sex? What about straight couples who cannot have children?

This led a fellow freethinker to write a satirical article about Catholic marriage, reporting that the Church will now integrate a sperm count in the wedding ceremony. I hope that few would miss the fact that this is satire. But no matter how satirical, I don’t think it comes close to how absurd the official Church position is. I’ll get to this shortly, but first, a reminder: The following is not satire.

Correcting Cruz

First of all, I’m surprised that Cruz got an important detail wrong, considering he is the judicial vicar of the CBCP National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal. Possibility of conception is not a requirement for marriage. Or stated another way, sterility is not a marital impediment:

Can. 1084: §3. Sterility neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 1098. (The marriage contract can be invalidated if one of the parties is dishonest about their sterility.)

Although Cruz was wrong about sterility, he was right about impotence. Couples who want to get married must have the capacity to “consummate the union”:

Can. 1084 §1. Antecedent and perpetual impotence to have intercourse, whether on the part of the man or the woman, whether absolute or relative, nullifies marriage by its very nature.

So sterility is OK, but impotence is not. But this was not always the case.

Cum Frequenter and True Semen

In 1587, Pope Sixtus issued a papal document known as the Cum frequenter. (Again, this is not satire.) In the document, Pope Sixtus said that because eunuchs cannot have intercourse, they shouldn’t be allowed to marry. This was interpreted as saying that for men to have proper marital intercourse, they must be able to produce “true semen.” True semen, as it was first understood, meant that it contained a crucial element that could only come from the testicles: sperm. In other words, even sterility was an impediment to marriage.

Scientists soon discovered that the male ejaculate contained not only sperm but other stuff as well. According to Dorland’s Medical Dictionary, semen is “composed of spermatozoa in a nutrient plasma, secretions from the prostate, seminal vesicles and various other glands, epithelial cells and minor constituents.” So it could be argued that sperm, although often found in semen, was not what made semen “true.”

The uncertainty on what constitutes true semen led the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to allow marriage involving men who had legally imposed vasectomies. It was only in 1977 when the CDF declared with certainty that canonical potency “does not necessarily require anything in the ejaculate that has been produced in the testicles.” True semen need not have sperm.

What’s Love Got To Do With It

But if sperm is no longer crucial, what is? Three things: (1) an erect penis (2) penetrating a vagina and (3) secreting true semen. The reason for this, however convoluted, is easy enough to explain. When a married couple successfully procreates in the Church-approved way, all 3 things are present. Therefore, all 3 things are essential in every sexual act — even though it may not necessarily lead to procreation.

So even though sterile couples cannot have children when they have sex, the fact that they’re having sex in the same Church-approved way that fertile couples do makes their intercourse valid.

Unfortunately, the first requirement — an erect penis — rules out the Church-approved way for impotent men. And the fact that there has to be one penis and one vagina rules out the Church-approved way for same-sex couples.

It’s also worth noting that even fertile couples who do not ever plan to have children are not allowed to marry. This, together with the other rules I’ve discussed reveal the Church’s true understanding of marriage: nothing more than a license to have sex. It doesn’t matter to the Church how much two people care for one another. Love may be thicker than water, but not true semen.

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Secularism: An Advocacy Against Theocracy


The advocacy for secularism is an advocacy for rights. More specifically, it is the advocacy for certain privileges and claims that are being denied due to the strong influence of the Church in our political affairs.

The Hoefeldian system classifies rights into privileges, claims, powers, and immunities. The dynamics of these four elements can be appreciated by observing how a religious country like the Philippines attempts to change its laws as it slowly breaks away from the authority of the Church.

Privileges and claims are called first-order rights: entitlements to perform/not perform certain actions, or that others perform/not perform certain actions. To have a privilege to do something means to have no duty not to do it, while to have a claim on something means that some other person or entity has a duty to satisfy that claim.

Powers and immunities, on the other hand, are second-order rights that have a bearing on first-order rights. To have power means to have the ability to alter one’s own or another’s privileges or claims, and to have  immunity means that another person or entity lacks the ability to alter one’s privileges or claims.

To illustrate, take for example the right to drink alcohol. It is a privilege-right in the sense that people aged 18 and above have no duty not to drink, but it is not a claim-right because the government has no duty to provide alcohol, let alone for free. The government, however, has the power-right to suspend the right to drink (and the right to buy and sell liquor) as what the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to do four days before and during election day, although foreigners have a limited immunity from the Comelec ban since they can drink in certain hotels and establishments with special permits.

The rights commonly advocated by secularists today are reproductive health (RH), divorce, and marriage equality. The RH law grants certain claims to qualified citizens by imposing a duty on the government to provide free contraceptives. The divorce bill seeks to grant couples of failed marriages the privilege to start a new life with a new spouse by relieving them of the duty to remain married to their old partners. Advocates of marriage equality fight for equal rights – not “special” rights – of same sex couples so they can enjoy the same legal recognition, protection, and claims that heterosexual couples often take for granted.

churchUnfortunately, these rights have yet to see the light of day as the supreme court issued a status quo ante order on the recently-passed RH law, while divorce and marriage equality still have to hurdle a tedious legislative process which at any point could stop them in their tracks. While it is the State that holds the power to grant or deny these claims and privileges, those who represent the State are also human beings and may be influenced by their religious beliefs or dictated upon by their religious leaders, adversely affecting the citizens who don’t share their persuasions. In effect, religion – actually just one particular religion – still holds considerable power over all of us whether or not we subscribe to it, the constitutional inviolability of Church-State separation notwithstanding.

And so the advocacy for secularism is an advocacy against theocracy.  It is a struggle against the undue influence of religion in public affairs, a drive to remind our public servants that they answer to the people and not to some church hierarchy. The call for secularism is a call to our fellow citizens to wield their power to choose the life they want to live, to think and act free from fear of excommunication and hell fire while remaining grounded on reason and evidence, and to strive to increase happiness and lessen needless suffering in this world. Ultimately, the advocacy for secularism is an advocacy for immunity from religion, and the advancement of the rights of the rational individual.

If you share this advocacy, please join Filipino Freethinkers as we fight for a true separation of Church and State in the Philippines.

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Image credit: Garrick Bercero

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Politics, Religion, RH Bill, SecularismComments (0)

A Very, Very Narrow-Minded View on Gay Marriage


marriage-equality-1I hate to admit this but my mind is pretty impenetrable. After reading what passes for a “stand” on legalizing same-sex marriage in the Philippines, my opinion on the matter remains the same. I just can’t (and I probably never will) understand why anyone would want to vote against gay people getting married.

I hate hearing people say that same-sex marriages will destroy the sanctity of that union. On the top of my head, here are 5 things that are currently destroying the sanctity of marriage:

  1. Domestic violence.
  2. Non-consensual non-monogamy (or infidelity with deliberate deceit).
  3. Getting married because of economic reasons.
  4. Getting married because someone got knocked up.
  5. Getting married under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Nobody’s asking me but I don’t think marriages were ever sacred. Most marriages in the good old days were done to acquire land, to obtain financial security, to improve social status, to gain more political power…  pretty much the same reasons why most people are getting married today. Romantic love is a fairly recent invention but as far as myths go, it’s also a fairly good thing to put your faith in. I get very giddy when I see couples holding hands while walking because even though it doesn’t seem to exist for me, it’s nice to see that it is real for some people. They’re not hurting me, unless I’m particularly hormonal that day and I start wondering why I’m still single.

I’m also perpetually perplexed by people who cry foul for their divine being of choice. Take the people who believe in Judeo-Christian god for example. You’ll occasionally find them protesting on the streets carrying “God hates fags” posters (even though their god allegedly created everything – hell included because, as you might know, Lucifer came from heaven too). I envy them because they have so much time in their hands, as I’m pretty sure it takes a while to organize a protest. It takes time and effort to create banners and posters but I suppose nothing bonds people closer than a common enemy. All that hate must have the kick of a million energy drinks.

Anyway, it perplexes me because if they hate “fags” so much… why not just let them burn in hell? What’s all the fuss trying to save damned souls? Don’t you people want more space in heaven? I’m pretty sure all your efforts have already been recognized by the bearded one upstairs. Do good and be good, that’s all you need to do right? I checked the Bible and from what I can tell, there are only two things that will guarantee safe passage to hell: suicide and doubt. So unless you killed yourself and/or you’re an atheist, all you need to do is to ask for forgiveness and you’re all set to go up.

Marriage isn’t as sacred as you want to think it is and the promise of hell for other people seems desirable if you hate them, which leaves us with… it’s unnatural?

Do you know what I think is unnatural? Wearing clothes. Animals don’t wear clothes. Why don’t we legislate a law against wearing clothes? Especially hideous ones like leopard prints. And glittery shoes. Why do people wear these things? Sometimes together. It’s just unnatural. Let’s ban it.

Oh, what’s that? I’m using my own subjective opinion of what is fashionable? You mean to say that I can continue to disapprove of them without depriving them the pleasure of being dressed horribly? And what’s that? They think my outfits are just as bad? Wait, wait, wait. Do you mean to tell me that we can coexist being poorly dressed and disapproving of each other without having to ban anything?

Alright, alright. I have to be honest. The reason why I’m this close-minded is because I like humans. Not women, not men: humans. Have I kissed a girl and liked it? Indeed I have. She was a very beautiful, very intelligent but also very silly adult female and we never had sex but I loved her for seven years and we didn’t hurt anyone but each other.

I know it’s hard to look at something you find unsightly. I really, really find leopard print and glittery shoes ugly but here’s a trick that addresses the problem: turn away. No one is asking me to approve, no one is asking me to change my opinion about it, but I’m very aware that I don’t have the right to tell them that they should stop wearing that abominable print simply because I find it weird. I don’t think anyone has the right to tell anyone that they are not allowed to love someone simply because they happen to be of the same sex.

On the top of my head, here are 3 pairings that need more negative attention than same-sex couples:

  1. “Consensual” pedophilia. I’m pretty close-minded about this too. I don’t think it’s proper to sexualize children.
  2. People afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome.
  3. Rape victims who are forced to marry their rapists.

There’s just so much suffering in the world. I just don’t see the point of depriving anyone of some modest amount of joy, no matter how temporary it may be or even if I get nothing out of it. I don’t plan on ever getting married so this really doesn’t concern me. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t concern straight people either so I don’t see why they have so much say in it. Pardon my ignorance.

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Marriage Equality and the Unequal Society


Marriage Equality vs Unequal SocietyBrace yourselves. Marriage Equality is coming. It’s been happening all over the world recently, and it’s only a matter of time that it happens here.

But as with many developments in science and social justice, the conservative Catholic Church and its Pro Life cohorts will do everything to stop it. They’ll be particularly more antsy with the recent loss in the RH battle and a potential loss on divorce also looming.

They’ll explain how marriage equality — we don’t call it same-sex marriage anymore* — is an attack on the traditional marriage, the sanctity of the family, Filipino culture, and human existence itself. They’ll bring out their usual non-sequiturs and one-sided statistics.

And although this especially applies to their flock, the Church will fight so that it applies to everyone else. They have every right to do so, but it shouldn’t matter in a secular democracy. Yet just like “equality,” “secular” and “democracy” are words the Catholic Church has always been allergic to.

They made this very clear a century ago when France first introduced secularism. In response to the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and State, Pope Pius X promulgated Vehementer Nos, an encyclical that called secularism “a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error.”

Although it was particularly aimed at secularism, it illuminated the Church’s stance on other issues, showing just why equality, secularism, and democracy are foreign ideas to this foreign institution:

The Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of per sons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful.

So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.

The encyclical goes on to explain why secularism has been, is, and always will be denounced by the Roman Catholic Church.** For now, understand that in the same way that the Church fought against secularism until it became the obvious choice to almost everyone, they will do the same against marriage equality. They’ll rehash the same tired arguments they’ve been using to block the measure here and all over the world.

But ultimately, behind the flawed arguments and supposed “science,” what it all boils down to is this: the Church does not think marriage equality is a good idea, so everyone else will just have to obey them. Because in their unequal society, our one duty is to allow ourselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.

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* What LGBT couples are asking for is not a special kind of marriage that merits its own moniker (same-sex marriage). All they’re saying is that the right to marry should apply equally to everyone.

** Fans of Vatican II will undoubtedly bring up Dignitatis Humanae, which supposedly corrects the Church’s stand on religious freedom. But one of the last things Pope Benedict XVI did was explain how this wasn’t really the case. But that’s a story for another article.

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Monopolizing Marriage: Gay Marriage and Other Traditional Versions


It’s a good time to be gay (and lesbian and bi and trans). Obama’s support for same-sex marriage came shortly after another LGBT win: Miriam Quiambao’s recent homophobic statements galvanized support for the LGBT community, raising awareness and even sympathy for their cause.

Momentum is on the LGBT community’s side, and with this week’s celebration of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), debates on marriage equality and other LGBT issues have reignited. Although an LGBT win is not guaranteed, the debate itself is a minor victory; the status quo is a defeat by default.

Dictating Definitions

To maintain the status quo, the Catholic Church and other conservative elements will try to dictate definitions — the terms of the debate. In the reproductive health (RH) debate, the most time-consuming distraction they use is the question, “When does life begin?” Pro-RH legislators would invariably fall into the trap of trying to define “life.” The anti-RH then argues as if it had a monopoly on the its meaning, which is to be expected from a group that has proclaims itself the “pro-life” side.

In the marriage equality debate, conservatives will use a similar tactic: they will try to monopolize the meaning of marriage. Marriage, they will argue, is a Catholic sacrament reserved for one man and one woman who love each other (unitive) and intend to have children (procreative) — to go beyond that definition bastardizes its meaning and endangers the institution of marriage itself. But even a brief look at history will show that the Catholic marriage is nothing but a modern invention.

What’s God got to do with it?

Long before God even created the world 6,000 to 10,000 years ago (if you’re a Young Earth creationist), people were getting married. The institution of marriage was invented before history was recorded reliably, and there’s as much variation in its practice as there are ancient cultures.

Back then, marriages were personal agreements that did not need the approval of the government or Church, and could easily be done informally — ceremonies were optional.

The Lesser Sacrament

It was only in the 12th century that Catholics started calling marriage a sacrament, and only in the 16th that they made the status official. And even then it was considered one of the lesser sacraments, and until the 10th century it was performed outside the Church. Priests didn’t officiate until the 13th century, a fact that mirrors the low esteem many Catholic leaders had for marriage.

Although Augustine believed that marriage was a sacrament, he thought that it delayed the coming of God’s kingdom. Jerome, a saint and Doctor of the Church, called marriage evil. Tertullian, called the founder of Western theology, said marriage “consists essentially in fornication.” Opinion varied, but it’s clear that marriage was viewed by early Catholic leaders as a necessary evil at worst and a lesser good at best.

What’s love got to do with it?

Far from the formal ceremony it is today, marriage was originally an agreement between individuals, a partnership — not a permanent commitment of love. It did not need the approval of the church or state, and it was often done informally — ceremonies were optional.

Rather than love or even lust, these agreements had more to do with money and power. Wives were not loved by their husbands and vice versa: women were simply child bearers; men, child supporters. As Demosthenes explained, “We have prostitutes for our pleasure, concubines for our health, and wives to bear us lawful offspring.”

When a man loves a woman

Traditional marriage? Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

Before heterosexual marriage became the norm, same-sex marriages had been in existence for centuries. It was a socially recognized institution in Ancient Greece and Rome, in some regions of China, and in Ancient Europe.

The one-partner limit is also relatively new. In Old Testament times, husbands could take multiple wives at the same time. Solomon, with all his divinely inspired wisdom, thought it was a good idea — he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. It was only in 342 AD that Christian emperors enforced the one-woman-one-man rule and ordered the execution of those who disobeyed.

More than baby-making

Despite their differences, the Church version and the more traditional ones share having children as a goal. But unlike their other marriage restrictions (consanguinity, affinity, age, etc.) the intention to have children is impossible to check, and is therefore unenforceable anyway.

This is probably why marriage is evolving to be something more than just baby-making thanks in no small part to the rise of reproductive health services and education around the world.

Traditional Marriage?

This review of the history of marriage is hardly comprehensive, yet it sufficiently shows how marriage has changed. If we include in our scope the various versions of marriage practiced today, it will make one thing clear: there is no individual or organization that can monopolize the meaning of marriage.

Giving the LGBT community the freedom to marry is not a break from tradition but a return to it. To be more precise, although it is different from the Catholic tradition, it is part of an older one, and if history is any justification, it’s just as valid. So the next time somebody protests that same-sex marriage destroys the traditional one, ask them: which tradition?

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