Filipina Women Support and Demand More Than Marriage Equality


March 30, 2013

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA-USA,

The recent debate over marriage equality in the last week has taken center stage as the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). While GABRIELA-USA is fully supportive of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender people and Queers having the right to marry, there is more to the issue than just marriage equality that must be addressed.  “We see it as a positive step forward, towards a much needed, more comprehensive fight for true LGBTQ equality, which should include immigration reform, health care, affordable housing, employment, social services, and addressing various forms of violence and discrimination,” says Irma Bajar, Vice-Chair of International Relations of GABRIELA-USA.

DOMA, passed in 1996, is a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and woman and restricts same sex couples from receiving federal benefits. This discriminatory definition is applied to over 1100 federal laws and programs. Hollingsworth vs. Perry was the 2008 case brought before the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare Prop 8 in the state of California unconstitutional. Several state and federal cases followed suit to challenge the Prop 8 amendment, and after several appeals, was finally granted a rehearing.

The debates raised some essential questions on marriage equality: whether to make it legal in all 50 states for same-sex couples to marry and be granted federal benefits that opposite-sex married couples currently enjoy, or if the states should have the power to honor their own laws around same-sex marriage over federal law regarding marriage equality.

Despite the fact that sexual identity ranks as the third-highest motivator for hate crime incidents (17 percent of total attacks), over the last year, LGBTQ people along with immigrant women and Native Americans were in line to be on the chopping block for whether they would be protected by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  “GABRIELA-USA believes that protection against violence is a basic human right and should not be debated on whether a group of people should have it or not. Everyone should have the right to be protected against violence,” says Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA-USA.

According to a 2011 FBI report, of the 6,222 reported hate crimes, 6,216 were single-bias incidents and 20.8% resulted from sexual orientation bias, the second highest next to racial bias at 46.9%.

Given that a great majority of GABRIELA-USA’s membership identifies as LGBTQ, we are pushing for a closer look at the most basic needs that should be addressed when talking about equality. “We are hopeful in advancing a people’s movement that demands comprehensive solutions, with marriage equality being just one aspect of equality for the LGBTQ population. We understand that the oppression of LGBTQ people is perpetuated by the same global imperialist system depriving basic rights and needs to other marginalized people, and we encourage our community as well as other marginalized communities to address the main problems that continue to oppress the most economically and violently exploited in our society, which largely includes LGBTQ people,” says Raquel Redondiez, Spokesperson of GABRIELA-USA.