Less than a week after news broke that the State Department would be changing U.S. passport applications and Consular Record of Birth Abroad (CRBA) forms to say “Parent” and “Parent” rather than the gender-specific “Mother” and “Father,” the department has modified its decision.
The Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday that the forms would instead say “Mother or Parent 1″ and “Father or Parent 2.” They say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had not been aware that “Mother” and “Father” would be removed when “Parent” and “Parent” were added.
I checked with State myself, and a department spokesperson confirmed that the forms would be re-redesigned: “With Secretary Clinton’s input, we have since decided to revise the relevant forms to retain the existing designation of mother and father in addition to the designation of parent.”
The AP also reported that Clinton was worried that removing “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.”
And the ultra-conservative Family Research Council put out a statement saying the original change flew in the face of both biology and social reality, and “violates the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).”
I wouldn’t be bothered by the “Mother or Parent 1″ and “Father or Parent 2″ construction if it didn’t feel like State was caving in to the right. Then again, on the scale of battles that we have to fight, this is a minor one. I can understand Sec. Clinton giving a little here—while nevertheless retaining the more inclusive spirit the changes were intended to promote. That’s politics.
Now the big question is, which of you gets to be “Parent 1″ and which will be “Parent 2″? (Mombian relationship advice: Flip a coin.)