Pass­port change will be in­clu­sive

‘Mother,’ ‘fa­ther’ and gen­der-neu­tral iden­ti­fier on ap­pli­ca­tion

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY MATTHEW LEE

In a bid to fore­stall a back­lash from con­gres­sional con­ser­va­tives, Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton has or­dered the State Depart­ment to amend a bureau­cratic change that would have elim­i­nated the ti­tles “mother” and “fa­ther” in fa­vor of the gen­der-neu­tral term “par­ent” in pass­port ap­pli­ca­tions and other doc­u­ments.

The State Depart­ment said Satur­day that Clin­ton had in­structed the depart­ment to re­tain “mother” and “fa­ther” in pass­port ap­pli­ca­tions as well as in a form known as a “Con­sular Re­port of Birth Abroad” that U.S. em­bassies use to doc­u­ment the birth of a child to ex­pa­tri­ate Amer­i­cans. It said the forms will now ask for the names of the child’s “mother or par­ent 1” and “fa­ther or par­ent 2.”

Gay and les­bian groups had ap­plauded the ini­tial change, which was an­nounced with lit­tle fan­fare in late De­cem­ber. But con­ser­va­tive groups crit­i­cized it as an at­tack on tra­di­tional mar­riage and fam­ily val­ues.

Clin­ton has been a force­ful ad­vo­cate for gay rights and in 2009 moved to give gay di­plo­mats, their part­ners and fam­i­lies the same ben­e­fits that het­ero­sex­ual di­plo­mats and their fam­i­lies re­ceive. That step at the State Depart­ment pre­ceded a sim­i­lar govern­ment-wide move an­nounced by the White House.

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 and pass­port ap­pli­ca­tions when she signed off on broader changes to the doc­u­ments 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.

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