When toddlers attack

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Good news from the U.S. State Department and the Family Equality Council

CONTACT: Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director
(202) 276-4311 │jennifer.chrisler@familyequality.org

State Department recognizes same-sex parents with form changes
Family Equality Council applauds new gender-neutral passport and
birth abroad forms

Washington, DC.... To recognize the growing diversity of American families, the U.S. Department of State has announced new, gender-neutral passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad forms. Effective January 3rd, 2011, the new forms will use the title of “parent” as opposed to “mother” and “father,” better reflecting same-sex and single parents (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/12/153636.htm).

“The updates remove significant challenges for the two million children being parented by lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) parents,” said Jennifer Chrisler, the executive director of Family Equality Council, which led the effort to change the forms. “The new forms prevent denial or delays for accessing fundamental aspects of American citizenship, and send a positive message of inclusion in American life for children with same-sex parents. We are grateful to both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama for prioritizing this change.”

The change comes as a result of education efforts led by Family Equality Council that illustrated the challenges faced by same-sex parents attempting to secure government documents for their children. “No family should feel the invisibility, frustration and anxiety we faced when applying for our child’s passport as a lesbian couple,” said Stephanie Hazen, mother of 6-year-old Emma Hazen-Disch.

Updating the federal government’s forms to make them more inclusive of LGBT-headed families is consistent with President Obama’s recognition of the diversity of American families. It 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families, and increases governmental efficiency by alleviating the needless confusion, delays and denials caused by outdated gender-specific forms.


The Family Equality Council works at all levels of government to advance full social and
legal equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender families, one million of whom
are raising two million children in the U.S.


  1. That is fascinating but confusing to me!
    I wonder if that implies that the non-genetic parent could be added to the birth cert and therefore not have the burden of doing a 2nd parent adoption in the United States.
    We are in the midst of the very tiresome (AND extremely invasive!) paperwork and process to complete adoptions in New Jersey.
    Is the United States really offering to allow same sex parents to avoid this and be determined to be the parent of a child based on a form?

  2. Good question. I'm guessing no, because that depends on the Indian authorities, doesn't it? I'm trying to get a better answer. Anyone want to chime in?

  3. The Indian BC will always have mother and father; what US State Dept does, won't affect Indian protocol. I read this as the application form for citizenship and for passports that will be gender neutral.

    On passports (Aus anyway) parents aren't mentioned; on citizenship certificate the same. So it's just on the forms the parents complete, which really doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of both parents having parental rights.

    My question is this Consular Report of Birth Abroad - the actual report you get with all the security fandango on it - can this be used in USA in place of the Indian BC?

    Even then, it would only be issued in the genetic parents' name as with same sex couples, only the genetic parent goes on the contract.

    Scratching my head ...


  4. Here's what an attorney friend who's dealt with second-parent adoptions had to say:

    No impact on 2nd parent adoptions. It just recognizes that same-sex couples jointly parent children in legal parent-child relationships and adjusts the forms to take that into account.

    So it may be the main benefit of this would be to avert the "where's the mommy" questions at passport control?

  5. It's about time. Our kid's passports have expired but I remember the problems that we had six years ago. Good to know that the next time will be a little easier.
    Thanks for spreading the word.
    Your Friend, m.

  6. So Mark, what specific problems do you think this will avert?

  7. From what I can remember, I think that only one of us was listed on each of the kids passports. So I believe that if the "non-parent"(can I say that?) was traveling with a kid not under his name, we would have had to receive written approval from the parent on the passport. Does that make sense? And although I don't care for it, we hypenated their last names so both of our names would at least show on their passports. m.

  8. I've spoken with a few people, and it appears that yes, the main benefit is symbolic: the indignity of one parent having to be "mother" or "father" when that doesn't correspond with their gender is no more. Also, it should indeed make things easier at passport control. Unfortunately, I'm told the CRBA is a more complicated issue so the parent designations on that form have less of a practical impact right now.

  9. I didn't mind being the Mother. I've been called harsher names, believe me.
    Great Post!
    Love, Parent #2