Last year, the State Department announced that in recognition of the changing face of the American family, it was altering the parent fields on children’s passports applications from “Mother” and “Father” to “Mother” and “Father” to “Parent 1″ and “Parent 2.″ The change went almost unnoticed until the Family Equality Council publicly thanked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the alteration, prompting the Family Research Council to condemn the revision as a violation of the Defense of Marriage Act. The State Department responded by modify the fields again, this time to “mother or parent 1″ and “father or parent 2.”
But for Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the change is still not enough. He introduced a new bill this week that would require federal agencies to use the words “mother” and “father.” From his website:
The Parental Title Protection Act, H.R. 635, would require all Federal agencies, contractors, and government-sponsored enterprises to use the words “mother” and “father” when describing parents in all official documents and forms.
“Symbolism is important and this legislation seeks to preserve the sacred relationship mothers and fathers share with their children. Referring to parents as “Parent 1” or “Parent 2” on official government documentation is a bureaucratic attempt to redefine traditional parent roles. These subtle, but nonetheless significant, changes undermine the traditional American family relationships that have served as the bedrock of our nation since its inception,” Forbes said.
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” and allows different types of families to apply for a service without feeling like the government doesn’t recognize their family. It is estimated that 1 million gay and lesbian people are raising 2 million children in the United States.
“The question of forms is one that every gay and lesbian faces,” Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council told me during a phone interview last month. Forms provide “a great opportunity to educate” the public about different kinds of families. (H/T: The Hill’s Daniel Strauss)