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Passport Applications Recognize Non-traditional Families

The U.S. Department of State recently announced a revision to passport applications that has elicited a wide range of responses from advocacy groups. The words "mother" and "father" have been replaced by gender-neutral "parent 1" and "parent 2" on the child's application. The change has sparked a lively exchange of views about the definition of family.

The State Department said the change was made in an effort to keep up with the times: "[W]e are confronting situations now that we would not have anticipated 10 or 15 years ago." GLBT advocates have hailed the decision as an important step toward full recognition of all kinds of families -- exactly the reason conservative groups have condemned the change as a backdoor recognition of same-sex marriage that "violates the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act."

The GLBT groups said the simple change will allow different kinds of families to apply for children's passports without feeling judged, or feeling that the government doesn't recognize them as families. And, these groups endorse the State Department's own assertion that this change recognizes advancements in "medical science and reproductive technology" that have made it possible for surrogacy, sperm and egg donation, and the like. A child's biological father, they argue, may not in any way, shape or form be the child's parent.

But conservative religious groups insist that the word change is another way for gays and liberals to erode the distinction between men and women. It's another way to undermine the fact that both a mother and a father are necessary to raise a child "successfully." It is a move motivated by political correctness alone, they add.

The application requires the names of the child's parents to establish legal custody. The State Department needs to know who can authorize the child's travel and who has the legal right to take the child outside the country. Both parents need to be present when the application is filed. They must also provide documentation of their relationship to the child (birth certificate, adoption decree, court order establishing guardianship).

Resource: Outside the Beltway "Mother and Father Replaced by Parent 1 and Parent 2" 01/08/11

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