Don’t lose sight of being human.
This was the advice of LGBT rights activist Jonas Bagas to the 16-year-old Woodrose Alabang student who wrote a column comparing same-sex marriage to a relationship with a dog.
In the article published at the Youngblood section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the student (name witheld) also criticized the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
In his response published at the Inquirer’s commentary section, Bagas first thanked the girl for contributing her views about the controversial issue.
“Thank you for sharing your thoughts about same-sex marriage. I always find it admirable when young people have the courage to voice their opinions,” he wrote.
Bagas pointed out some “factual errors and misconceptions” in her article.
He said he found it unfair to compare same-sex marriage to having a relationship with a dog, calling the comparison fallacious and non sequitur.
“Let’s say I love my dog very much; can I get married to my dog? The answer is clearly no, because it is naturally wrong. Just because we love someone doesn’t make it right to marry that person,” the student wrote.
“First, I think it is quite unfair and illogical to compare the desire of same-sex couples to get legal recognition for their relationships to allowing marriage with our beloved pets. It is fallacious, a non sequitur,” said Bagas.
Bagas also countered the girl’s assessment that gay couples resorting to adoption would be unable to raise “normal human beings.”
The gay rights activist pointed out studies that show children raised by same-sex parents grow up better than those raised by the traditional, heterosexual families.
“[I]t is incorrect to say that children growing up in same-sex households end up abnormal or immoral… There are in fact many studies in countries where same-sex relationships are recognized that prove that children in same-sex households are better than their counterparts in “hetero” households,” he said.
Another point which Bagas countered is the girl’s conclusion that “the [SCOTUS] ruling may increase the risk of many diseases. Gays and lesbians may have a higher risk of contracting HPV, or the human papillomavirus.”
“The truth is that in the case of HIV, countries that patently discriminate against LGBTs (for example, those who criminalize same-sex behavior) have higher HIV prevalence. There are also studies that show that embracing LGBTs have a positive impact on our collective wellbeing,” he said.
He encouraged the student to meet more LGBT members so she may realize that “our life journeys are no different from those you are more familiar with.”
“We love our pets, but not enough to marry them; we fall in love, we fall out of love; we struggle to make our relationships work,” Bagas said.
“If we face the same struggles, why then should our relationships be treated differently?” he added.
In the end, Bagas appealed to the girl to “not lose sight of our common humanity.”
“There will always be those who will never be convinced of the plausibility of LGBTs as citizens who deserve equality or dignity. I hope you are not one of them. But in deciding where we stand on this issue, we should not lose sight of our common humanity.”
According to his commentary, Bagas is an “LGBT rights ninja, HIV activist, political geek, show biz idiot.” He is the executive director for TLF Share, an organization promoting sexual health, human rights and community development of the LGBT.
Bagas writes in his blog fullman.wordpress.com. He describes himself as a “34-year old political whore who dabbles in HIV advocacy, LGBTIQZY rights activism and leftist politics.”
Bagas was also included in the Bench B/Proud Series of notable LGBT Filipinos in 2014. Jauhn Etienne Villaruel