Tuesday, January 18, 2011

U.S. passport applications go gender-neutral...sorta

Last week, I read on Fox News (story appeared Jan 7) that the U.S. State Department plans to remove the words “mother” and “father” from U.S. passport applications for children. The terms will be replaced with gender neutral terminology.

“The words in the old form were ‘mother’ and ‘father,’” said Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant Secretary of State for Passport Services. "They are now ‘parent one’ and ‘parent two.’"

Sprague said the decision to remove the traditional parenting names was not an act of political correctness.

Forgive me a Seussian chuckle. Sprague argues, somewhat disingenuously:

“We find that with changes in medical science and reproductive technology that we are confronting situations now that we would not have anticipated 10 or 15 years ago,” she said.

But why stop at medical science? The State Department should be even more inclusive, and encompass labels based on social science too. In that case, even the word “Parent” is too narrow and discriminatory. Perhaps the State Department may have to consider providing choices that take into account various pseudo-parenting sub-categories, such as "Sperm donor who maintains involvement"; "Surrogate womb who is Parent 1’s female sibling"; "Parent 1's best friend, who is actually more supportive than deadbeat biological Parent 2;" “Parent 2’s current boyfriend”(oops, sexist! Make that current partner), and so forth.

Perhaps it isn’t about medicine or science at all—maybe it's all about feelings. But whose feelings? Evidently only those of certain Americans, specifically, a tiny minority of gays, lesbians and “other-gendered” (the official acronym has grown too wieldy for memory) with children. The feelings of traditional family advocacy groups and individuals apparently don't matter one jot. Conservative groups oppose the State Department’s decision, but they are not likely to win any sympathy from the current administration.

“Only in the topsy-turvy world of left-wing political correctness could it be considered an ‘improvement’ for a birth-related document to provide less information about the circumstances of that birth,” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins wrote in a statement to Fox News Radio. “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.”

On the other hand, “Gay rights groups are applauding the decision.” And why not, since various pro-homosexual groups, the Family Equality Council among them, have been lobbying for this for some time.

“Changing the term mother and father to the more global term of parent allows many different types of families to be able to go and apply for a passport for their child without feeling like the government doesn’t recognize their family,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council.
(Incidentally, I don’t know what makes the word parent “more global”; it’s not as if the terms “mother” and “father” were some sort of xenophobic American inventions, but that is neither here nor there.) Chrisler claims that the old passport form made her female partner feel like a 'second class citizen' when it required her to fill in the 'father' field on an application. It felt "discriminatory."

Sprague said she would not use the word discriminatory to describe the old passport form. “I would prefer to use the word imprecise,” she said.
Ah, yes, if you're looking for precision (that is, accuracy, exactitude), the labels "Parent 1 and Parent 2" make everything a whole lot clearer, do they not?

But if you think this is extreme (or just plain silly), brace yourself. It could get much worse, and eventually, I'm sure it will. Just wait until the polygamy crowd (no pun intended) joins the fun. There are no hurt feelings like radical Islamist hurt feelings.

UPDATE: Wonder of wonders! The State Dept. won't go entirely neutral after all...as reported on Mercator Net.

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