Gay-rights proponents are cheering and some conservatives are up in arms after the State Department said it would replace the words "mother" and "father" on U.S. passport applications with gender-neutral terms.
Instead of "mother" and "father," the forms will read "parent one" and "parent two."
A statement on the agency's website
called the changes "improvements" that are being made to provide a more accurate description "of a child's parents and in recognition of different types of families."
Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant secretary of State for Passport Services, told Fox News
the new forms reflect the realities of the modern world.
"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," Sprague said.
Christian conservative organizations were quick to slam the forthcoming changes.
"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," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement
Perkins said the gender neutral terms were "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 (DOMA)."
Under the 1996 federal law, marriage is legally defined as a union between one man and one woman.
Gay-rights supporters hailed the move toward gender neutral terminology.
"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," Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council, told Fox News.
Chrisler, who pushed for the changes for years, praised the government for recognizing that "the family structure is changing."
"The best thing that we can do is support people who are raising kids in loving, stable families," she said.
The State Department said the new passport applications will be available online next month.