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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Victory! U.S. Passport Applications Now Reflect All Families

By Dana Rudolph -

Back in July 2010, I wrote of my experience getting a new passport for my son, who has two moms, and the difficulties presented by the “Father’s Name” and “Mother’s Name” blanks on the application. Over 900 of you signed the petition asking the State Department to revise the passport application to say “Parent” and “Parent” -- making it more inclusive of all families.
Success! On December 22, the State Department announced it will be making this change, and the application will be revised to say "Parent" and "Parent."
The Family Equality Council (FEC), which has led the charge for the passport change, deserves our recognition and thanks for their work in making this happen.
The State Department has additionally changed the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) -- a document confirming that a child born overseas to a U.S. citizen acquired U.S. citizenship at birth -- to say "Parent" and "Parent." The CRBA still states, however, "The following items pertain to the biological parents." For families with one biological and one non-biological parent, this continues to present a problem.
Emily Hecht-McGowan, Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement for FEC, explained that the CRBA is controlled by U.S. immigration regulations and confers citizenship through biology, in order to protect children born out of wedlock to U.S. citizens abroad. She says this is one of many issues regarding children born abroad to U.S. same-sex parents that FEC is continuing to address in Washington.
The State Department has been in the forefront of instituting LGBT-inclusive policies, and has here shown its support once again. No, it was not really arduous to cross out a word and put in a new one -- but for our children who watched us do it, it was yet another reminder that our families are often marginalized. Allowing for the possibility of different types of families on a form like this also reminds people that we exist and that our presence is recognized by the State Department -- and on the single most important piece of identification a U.S. citizen may have.
And for those of you who are still dealing with "Mother" and "Father" on school, camp, medical, and other forms, you may just want to pop over to the State Department site to print out an official U.S. Passport Application and show others how it's done. (The new application will not be available until February 1, however.)


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