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The Philippine doctrine on the separation of church and state, while rooted in American constitutional tradition, continues to show vestiges of Spanish colonial rule. The Philippines adopted the union of church and state for three and a half centuries as a Spanish colony, but became a secular state after it was ceded to the United States of America in 1898. The wall of separation has since been maintained in all subsequent Philippine constitutions, only to be compromised in statutes and daily life. That conflict is most evident in marriage, a legal institution openly shaped by canon law. Falcis v Civil Registrar-General, the marriage equality petition pending before the Philippine Supreme Court, seeks to end that practice. But note the irony: while the US Supreme Court in Obergefell v Hodges secularizes marriage and disconnects it from religion, Falcis takes an opposing route in anchoring marriage equality on religious freedom. This article looks at the prospect of that gambit. By contrasting the legal and theological contexts from which Obergefell and Falcis stem, the article shows how the demands of same-sex union and church-state separation are tightly intertwined.
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