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PHILIPPINES - Dec 1, 2003

Baguio City -- Who wore the bridal gown? Neither spouse. The couples were in their best barong tagalog as they march down the isle.

After six years nurturing their love, David and Alex finally exchanged wedding vows and rings as their family and friends stood witness to Baguio’s first same-sex wedding in a closed door ceremony held here last Monday.

David, a cultural arts worker, and Alex, a business consultant, formalized their relationship in a holy union officiated by Fr. Richard Mickley, founder of the Order of St. Aelred and known to have officiated same-sex marriages elsewhere in the country. The couple met in Manila six years ago and fell in love. They later moved to Baguio and became successful in their respective fields.

Two adult ring bearers and a lesbian partner carried their "wedding veil" that was actually a rainbow flag, the colorful international symbol of gay and lesbian pride.

"My partner and I don’t do role playing," said David. "We are both gay men and we’re taking pride in our decision to marry even if current laws won’t recognize this basic human right. But despite the inequality, a growing number of gay people are entering into relationships and establishing their own families without state-sponsored legislation."

He added that unlike holy matrimony, a "holy union" doesn’t require legal documents. People enter holy union as a holy sacrament that seeks divine blessings for the love they share to one another.

Proponents of same-sex marriage in the Philippines Congress have been pushing for the legislation of equal right for gays and lesbians but have always encountered violent opposition from conservatives, particularly the Catholic church, who shamelessly pervert the unconditional love of God by casting stones at those they declare more sinful than themselves.

The pre-dominantly Catholic population of the Philippines is traditionally tolerant and accepting of gays within the family structure. Many well-known gays hold visible and high positions in government and the private sector.

In 1994, the Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines(ProGay) led the first gay and lesbian pride march in the country. Since then, Filipino homosexuals have marched in an annual public pride parade every June and a number of grassroots GLBT groups have lobbied the government for official recognition of their basic human rights.

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