The Inbox

When a ‘wedding’ is a human right statement to love

Myke Sotero (right) exchanges vows with his partner Gregory Rugay (left) in a same sex …

By Desiree Caluza, VERAFiles

Dedicated to the proposition that “Love is beyond gender and sexual orientation,” a church in Baguio City makes possible same-sex love to bloom and have it formalized in a marriage ceremony.

Last Dec. 23, Myke Sotero, 44, exchanged “I do’s” with his long-time partner Gregory Rugay,40, in a solemn ceremony conducted by the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC)--- a Christian church that ministers to homosexuals.

“We dedicate this holy union to the LGBT’s struggle for equal rights and in defiance to discrimination, hate and homophobia. We give back all the glory to God whose love is universal, inclusive and unconditional,” the couple said in a statement which they distributed to guests.

Sotero, pastor of MCC Metro Baguio (MCCMB), said his union with Rugay was not only about nurturing a romantic partnership but was also part of LGBTs’ fight for gay rights.

“We decided to marry in affirmation of our love, and to be true to our advocacy, as leaders of MCC and Ladlad Party list, that love should be equal,” Sotero said. “This union is a testimony to the community that the LGBTs are equally part of God’s children and that marriage should be accorded to all people who want to profess their love before families and friends.”

For this gay pastor who once called himself “byuding” or “byudong bading” (a gay widower), love is sweeter the second time around, when he finally married his partner of three years in an elaborate ceremony held in one of the resorts here.

The couple were both clad in traditional barong tagalog, while their male entourage led by “flower gays” and bubble dykes (or bubble blowers) were dressed in colorful gowns.

The Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera (DKK) sang the entrance song “Entay Ganaganasen,” an Igorot-themed music, at the “holy union sacramental rites” officiated by Pastor Edgardo Constantino of MCC-Makati at the Highland Villa garden on Bokawkan Road in this city.

During the exchange of vows and rings, Rugay said he was committed to his partnership to Sotero.

“Myke, because this ring is perfectly symmetrical, it signifies the perfection of true love,” Rugay said. “As I place it on your finger, I give you all that I am and ever hope to be. Wear this ring as we journey through life together.”

The couple said they also wanted to dedicate the union not only to each other but also to the LGBT community.

“We are happy in this celebration especially as LGBTs,” Pastor Constantino said. “However, there are those who do not understand this ceremony as they ask if this is a cult which is doing illegal things. But for us, we believe that God is love, and Myke and Gregory are brothers who are in love and who are so in love with each other. As witnesses, we have big roles as we unite in supporting their wedding vows.”

After the ceremony, the couple signed a certificate of union.

As the couple was cheered by the guests to kiss each other, the rainbow flag (known internationally as a symbol of gay and lesbian pride) was collecting mists at the patio where it was hung, as if calling for a new beginning for this gay couple whose love for each other knows no boundaries.

“This is already the second time. I hope that time will be on my side and that I am not going to bury my partner and cry again,” Sotero said.

His first partner Alex died from stroke in 2007. They were married in November 2003 at a clandestine wedding ceremony, officiated by Fr. Richard Mickley, superior of the Order of the St. Aelred.

The Order of the St. Aelred, a monastery of gay priests and lesbian nuns, was put up in the Philippines in 1996 to provide a support system for gays and lesbians who are often discriminated, according to Mickley.

Sotero and Rugay were instrumental to the holding of a mass gay union in Baguio City last year. They have joined other gay rights activists in campaigning for same-sex “union,” which earned criticisms from mainstream Catholic and evangelical churches, as well as local government officials.

Sotero, as an MCCMB pastor, officiated the mass “wedding” of a male couple and seven lesbian partners at a local bar here. He called the ceremonial rites “same-sex holy unions” and not same-sex marriages because the community acknowledges that Philippine laws do not recognize homosexual unions in the country.

Metropolitan Community Churches, which started in the United States and have spread in many parts of the world, say they “ are on a bold mission to transform hearts, lives, and history…Just as Jesus did, we are called to: Do justice, show kindness, and live humbly with God. (Micah 6:8).”

The MCCMB, in its website, said it will continue to conduct same-sex holy unions for LGBT couples not only here in Baguio but in other parts of the country as well “to prove that no law is higher than love.”

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. In a brief despatch, North Korea's official KCNA news …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options