In late December, the State Department announced that in recognition of the changing face of the American family, it was changing the parent fields on children’s passports applications from “Mother” and “Father” to “Parent 1″ and “Parent 2″ but amended the rule this Saturday to retain the original designations. Instead, “the form will now ask for the names of the child’s “mother or parent 1″ and “father or parent 2”:
However, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Saturday that Clinton had not been aware that the terms “mother” and “father” would be stricken from the consular birth reports when she signed off on broader changes to the document last year.
“She has directed that the relevant forms retain to the existing references to `mother’ and `father’ in addition to the designation `parent’,” Crowley said. He said her decision would ensure that the documents are as inclusive and informative as possible.
State Department officials said Clinton was concerned that eliminating the “mother” and “father” from the forms would spark an unwanted fight with newly powerful Republican lawmakers who are calling for major cuts in foreign operations spending and have challenged administration policy in numerous areas.
Indeed, the change went almost unnoticed until the Family Equality Council publicly thanked Clinton for the alteration. The revelation prompted the Family Research Council to condemn the revision as a violation of the Defense of Marriage Act and Fox News was not far behind:
- “And a big change is coming to passport applications. Instead of asking for your mother and father, it will ask for Parent 1 and Parent 2. Is safety being nixed to be politically correct?” [Fox and Friends, 1/08/2011]
- “And if you fill out a passport application, you’re in for a shock! … The words of mother and father will soon be removed and replaced with the gender neutral terms of Parent 1 and Parent 2! And no, this is not a Dr. Seuss book!.” [Scorecard, 1/07/2011]
Watch a compilation:
The State Department says that the changes will provide the government with more accurate information and allow for a better description “of a child’s parents and in recognition of different types of families.” “Changing the term ‘mother’ and ‘father’ to the more global term of ‘parent’ allows many different types of families to be able to go and apply for a passport for their child without feeling like the government doesn’t recognize their family,” Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council, had said of the original change.
In a phone interview with me this afternoon, Chrisler described the revised fields as “not an unreasonable place where the State Department has landed,” but said that it “would be a shame” if the agency was “responding to pressure by the FRC.” She added that the change may only apply to “the counselor report of a birth abroad,” which is an application Americans fill out when they have children born outside of the U.S. Her group was still confirming the details of the decision.
“The question of forms is one that every gay and lesbian faces,” she said, arguing that they provide “a great opportunity to educate” the public about different kinds of families. The group will “continue to do that on behalf of the 1 million gay and lesbian people “raising 2 million children in this country.” (H/T: Equality Matters)