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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 14, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 02
Clinton re-revises State Department forms
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Section One
Clinton re-revises State Department forms

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Less than a month after the U.S. State Department revised language on one of its standard forms, the form has been re-revised by order of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Last month, the wording of the State Department's 'Consular Report of Birth Abroad' was changed to adopt gender-neutral language.

The form is used to document the births of children to U.S. citizens living outside the country.

Where the form previously asked for the names of the child's 'Mother' and 'Father,' the language was changed to 'Parent 1' and 'Parent 2.'

LGBT organizations applauded the change, which would more accurately describe the family relationships of same-sex couples, where there might be two 'Mothers' or two 'Fathers' rather than one of each.

Conservative groups criticized it as an attack on traditional one man-one woman marriage, however.

The changes to the form were made public on December 22, but were not widely noticed until the Family Equality Council, an advocacy group for LGBT families, publicly thanked Clinton for making them.

In a January 5 statement, the group said the revision 'carries significant tangible and symbolic consequences for same-sex headed families, and increases governmental efficiency by alleviating the needless confusion, delays, and denials caused by outdated gender-specific forms.'

That drew the attention of conservative groups like the Family Research Council, which said the change catered to the 'topsy-turvy world of left-wing political correctness.'

'This is clearly designed to advance the causes of same-sex 'marriage' and homosexual parenting without statutory authority, and violates the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act,' the FRC said in a statement on January 7.

According to State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, Clinton was unaware that the terms 'Mother' and 'Father' would be removed from the forms when she signed off on broader changes to the document last year.

'She has directed that the relevant forms retain the existing references to 'Mother' and 'Father' in addition to the designation 'Parent,' Crowley said on January 8.

He said Clinton's decision would ensure that the documents are as inclusive and informative as possible.

State Department officials said the Secretary of State was concerned that eliminating 'Mother' and 'Father' from the forms would spark an unwanted fight with Republican members of Congress.

Parents will now be described on the re-revised forms as 'Mother or Parent 1' and Father or Parent 2.'

Family Equality Council executive director Jennifer Chrisler said the latest language was 'not an unreasonable place where the State Department has landed,' but added that it 'would be a shame' if the department was 'responding to pressure by the FRC.'

The FRC has not yet commented on the latest revision.

As secretary of state, Clinton has been a forceful advocate for LGBT equality.

In 2009 she moved to give LGBT State Department employees, their partners, and families the same benefits that straight employees and their families receive.

In June 2010, she also authorized changes in rules governing passport applications to make it easier for Transgender people to get U.S. passports that accurately describe their gender.

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