So sayeth the Comelec

Nicodemo T. Ferrer is a pillar of the community. Man of faith, Knight of Columbus, former dean of the Virgen Milagrosa University Foundation, Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister for Our Lady of the Purification Parish, a man whose 2006 appointment into the Commission on Elections came with his pledge to “restore and improve” the public image of the Commission on Elections—the same man of God whose bigoted morality has brought Manila back to the medieval.

On Nov. 11, Ferrer denied the petition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group Ang Ladlad for recognition as a sectoral party under the party-list system. Along with Commissioners Luencito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, Ferrer presided over a decision that declared homosexuality a state that offended religious morality, and announced it is the Comelec’s duty “to protect the youth from moral and spiritual degradation.” It is not necessary to dwell on the fact that the decision is written with the same professional skill of a college freshman with a hangover. The decision—missing one page—is footnoted with random Internet references and off-context Biblical quotations. That the Supreme Court cited Ferrer for a “lack of diligence” in three separate occasions during his career may or may not be the reason behind the sloppy formulation of the decision.

The party-list law was created to allow the underrepresented to contribute to national legislation, an acknowledgement that a democracy can easily ignore the needs of minorities. There are some who argue that the presence of homosexuals in every other industry bars them from claiming minority status, and they would be wrong. A minority isn’t a function of number. That the national census reports a population of more women than men has not been a reason to withhold party-list status from Gabriela and Abanse! Pinay, the same reason that Kabataan party’s first youth representative sits in Congress today. Being a minority is to live in a state of helplessness, to be denied a voice in the structure of their future. On Nov. 11, the Comelec presented the clearest reason for why Ang Ladlad deserves party representation, by reminding the thinking public that even in the dawn of the 21st century, bigotry is alive in all its brilliant, bible-thumping, mad-eyed fervor—not only alive, but penning Comelec decisions in the service of the nation.

The decision claims it is not written to condemn the LGBT, only to protect the wellbeing of the people, especially the youth, from moral and spiritual degradation. I do not understand how political representation leads to moral and spiritual degradation, and find no reason in their arguments other than that “the bible says so.” This is what it means for the Comelec—and therefore the government—to claim the homosexual and the lesbian and the transsexual in the five-inch heels are dangerous to the youth: that these people deserve less than anyone else, that they are the other, to be shunned and condemned, deserving of every discriminatory action they have fought against since they started stepping out of dark closets. To accept this decision as a given allows the bouncer to turn away the transsexual girl from the high-class club, justifies the firing of the male call center agent for having a boyfriend, and makes right the beating of 12-year-old effeminate boys in the back of high-school buildings. The decision is a ham-fisted punch to the face of democracy, marginalizing what they are supposed to empower.

It’s bad enough that Ang Ladlad was initially refused on a technicality, at a time when the armed militia—represented in every sector of government—was declared a minority, along with groups of enterprising businessmen and unions of water distribution personnel and organizations of barangay captains. The LGBT, denied insurance premiums and asked by bosses to stay in closets, are told they are a danger to society. Take out your children from Ateneo; Danton Remoto might turn them gay. Pull out your subscription from the Inquirer; Manolo Quezon might kill their spirituality. Shut off your television, stay away from the beauty parlors, watch out for those high heels. Not only will the state permit discrimination, it will applaud it in the name of God and country. So they quote scripture and verse with fundamentalist vigor from a religion that has itself evolved since the day 2,000 years ago when a 30-year-old storyteller was hung on a cross between thieves. Theirs is a selective morality—blame God for your bigotry when possible; ignore the rest. Their democracy is one of convenience, free only when it agrees with their narrow-minded vision. It is fine to quote Romans about homosexuality, “men with men working that which is unseemly” but I did not hear government agencies thundering the seventh commandment when Joseph Estrada ran for office after gleefully admitting his string of mistresses.

The Comelec decision is all the more ironic given that the basis for disqualification of any party-list group is religious affiliation. There is a reason there is a line between Church and state within a democracy. It is because morality is arbitrary; taken on faith by some, denied by others. Law provides a framework where multiple moralities can function, for as long as the most basic universal rights are respected. Without that divide, the whole grand idea of equality and freedom becomes simply an idea, limited by the righteousness of the powerful. And still the Comelec quotes Lehman Strauss, “a famous bible teacher and writer in the U.S.A” who says that “older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth,” as if Strauss were the authority on Philippine law instead of a Baptist pastor preaching online from Pennsylvania who believes that “the woman’s God-given nature is to be dependent.”

To allow Ang Ladlad’s petition does not mean supporting their beliefs. It has nothing to do with advocating gay marriage or allowing homosexuals in the military. It does not stop the average bigot from calling the corner hairdresser a fag. It is about acknowledging a democratic right to the citizens of a democratic country—no matter how little that democracy means now.

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Posted on Nov 11, 2009 under Elections, Politics and labeled ,,,

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    The bigotry and stupidity of Nicodemo T. Ferrer are more of my abhorrence of him here because I’m also aware of his diabolical influence or direct involvement in the disqualification of Governor Padaca and Among Panlilio than a possible inundation of gays and lesbians of our government. Hah! even the latter devil is preferable to me than the one I know! For what could be worser than the present-day, present-decade, leaders?

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