From controversy to compromise. After announcing that on children's passport applications, "mother" and "father" would in the future be referred to as "parent 1" and "parent 2," the State Department Saturday changed course and retain the titles "mother" and "father," while also adding the term "parent."
The agency said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ordered that "mother" and "father" remain on passport forms and paperwork that documents the birth of a child to Americans overseas. Nicole Thompson, State Department spokesperson, told PoliticsDaily the forms will now ask for the names of the child's "mother or parent" and "father or parent," or possibly "mother or parent 1" and "father or parent 2."
"With Secretary Clinton's input, the State Department decided to revise those . . . forms to retain the previous designation in addition to the word 'parent,'" said Thompson.
The short-lived change to only gender-neutral terms, announced in December and reported late last week
, was hailed by gay-rights proponents and assailed by some conservatives. Some speculated that Clinton reversed that decision to avoid a backlash from congressional Republicans.
A statement last week on the agency's website
said dropping "mother" and "father" were "improvements" 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
on Friday that the gender-neutral terms would 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 the movement away from "mother" and "father."
"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.
Perkins and Chrisler did not immediately comment on the State Department's compromise.