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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 01/11/2011

State Dept. policy change the latest gay rights win

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

The State Department's recent decision to make passport applications more gender neutral is the latest in a series of victories for gay rights organizations pushing to change several elements of federal policy considered unfavorable to gay Americans.

The change - unveiled quietly in late December and widely reported over the weekend - came quietly on the same day that President Obama gathered with gay rights advocates to sign legislation ending the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a well-publicized and symbolic moment in the decades-long gay rights movement.

Amid the news reports and potential political backlash from conservatives, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pulled back Saturday, deciding that the forms required for first-time passport applicants younger than 16 will retain "Mother" and "Father," but ask instead for the names of a child's "Mother or Parent 1" and "Father or Parent 2" - a more gender neutral reference sought by gay rights groups on behalf of same-sex parents.

Though it's a move steeped in bureaucratic minutia, the tweak to passport application forms means gay rights organizations can cross another item off a list of proposed changes -- called a "Blueprint for Positive Change" by some groups -- presented to Obama aides during the 2008 presidential transition as a series of changes that could be made through executive action without congressional approval, according to gay rights leaders familiar with the proposals.

After intense lobbying by gay groups, the administration is now studying the impact of housing discrimination against gays and lesbians, planning to count same-sex marriages in the 2020 Census and Obama is pushing for legislation that grants full benefits to the same-sex partners of gay federal employees after extending some fringe benefits to them.

The Pentagon is also moving fast to end the 17-year ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in uniform, a move requiring legislation that earned strong White House support.

But several items remain: Advocates want the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure appropriate protections to gay and lesbian people and their children during disaster relief efforts and are calling on the Transportation Security Administration to draft non-discriminatory policies addressing the treatment of transgender air passengers.

The change in State Department policy was well-known last month by some gay leaders, who decided to keep quiet in order to focus attention on the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," according to advocates not authorized to speak on the record.

The changes reflect "recognition of different types of families," the State Department said, a sentiment echoed by gay leaders.

"The government is finally recognizing the reality that many children are being raised by same-sex parents," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, a group that helped push for the change. "This is just one form, but there are hundreds of government forms that need to be changed to reflect the realities of the modern family."

Gay rights leaders also want to see "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" on other federal health and housing forms, changes that would be "nothing more than the recognition of reality," said Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization with close ties to the Obama White House.

But Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, called the changes "clearly designed to advance the causes of same-sex 'marriage' and homosexual parenting without statutory authority." He called on Congress to intervene.

"I don't think this is the kind of decision that makes or breaks a civilization, but I don't want to underestimate what it means symbolically," said Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a popular evangelical commentator. "It's further evidence of the loss of a commitment to the natural family that will come with very serious consequences for the culture."

"There are relationships that are immediately implied by mother and father that aren't implied by Parent 1 and Parent 2," Mohler said. "It's not just a change to more bureaucratic language, it's a redefinition of the relationship."

The nation remains closely divided on the issue of gay rights: 40 percent of respondents described themselves as a "gay rights supporter" in a June survey by the Pew Research Center. Fifty-six percent of voters believed homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted; 33 percent believe it should be discouraged, according to a November poll by Democracy Corps. Support for homosexuality has climbed steadily since the 1990s, according to several surveys.

Polling analyst Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: Vice President Biden makes an unannounced visit to Afghanistan. Secretary of State Clinton makes a surprise visit to Yemen and urges Arabs to oppose Iranian nukes. Arnold Fields, watchdog over Afghan reconstruction, resigns amid congressional pressure.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Pentagon must 'Buy American,' barring Chinese solar panels: A provision that is likely to dismay Chinese officials as President Hu Jintao prepares to visit the United States next week.

FBI:
Twitter shines a spotlight on secret FBI subpoenas: The demands for details of people connected to the WikiLeaks case isn't unusual or intrusive. It is noteworthy because it became public.

U.S. POSTAL SERVICE:
• 'Frustrated' postal union continues negotiations: The nation's largest postal union is "increasingly frustrated" with the pace of negotiations, but plans to stay at the negotiating table.

SEC:
SEC files more charges in Galleon case: The new round of charges expands the S.E.C.'s case to 27 defendants. Several individuals have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | January 11, 2011; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Eye Opener  
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Comments

Slowly but surely the government chips away at the walls of hate. When will all "Christians" follow suit or at least respect that people are different and that different isn't always "bad".

Posted by: reming | January 11, 2011 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Just let the gays have their rights. Equal rights, not special status.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | January 11, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

A small victory for people just trying to love their kids, take vacations, and be normal -- just like everybody else. Makes you wonder why some have a problem with that.

Posted by: sarahabc | January 11, 2011 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Slowly but surely the government chips away at the walls of hate. When will all "Christians" follow suit or at least respect that people are different and that different isn't always "bad".

Posted by: reming | January 11, 2011 7:32 AM | Report abuse
////////////////////////////////////////

Ha, the Christians are hateful and the government is chipping away at these "walls of hate"? What a joke.

You have not seen seething hatred until you have witnessed a Leftist mob on the march.

Posted by: RealTexan1 | January 11, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

i finally figured out how the world will end.we are all going to turn gay,and we cannot reproduce our species.

Posted by: SISSD1 | January 11, 2011 8:42 AM | Report abuse

"Fifty-six percent of voters believed homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted; 33 percent believe it should be discouraged, according to a November poll by Democracy Corps."

This doesn't sound like a "closely" divided population to me. If a presidential candidate won 56% vs. 33% we would call that not only a resounding victory, but a lopsided one, at that!

Posted by: crzytwnman | January 11, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

"You have not seen seething hatred until you have witnessed a Leftist mob on the march."

Posted by: RealTexan1

Aaaand I'm looking for the mob, looking for the mob, looking around and around. Is it over there? There? Hmm. Nope, don't see any mob anywhere.

Posted by: duhneese | January 11, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Strange. Mr. Perkins says his group lays claim to the word, 'marriage.' Now, that claim extends to who he thinks can be called a 'mother' or a 'father.'

Mr. Mohler invents the 'natural family' to modify and retain a feeble ownership of the word 'family.'

Their fight reduces to arguments about speech and dictionaries, rather than ideas and bibles.

Confirms my suspicion: If they don't really believe in the power of what they champion - an institution, scripture - then they willingly surrender authority to government and the Constitution, as they attempt to modify that government and civil law.

No thanks. We don't live in a theocracy. Especially one based on compulsion, not faith or genuine beliefs.

What's next? Am I forbidden to say 'his husband' or 'her wife?'

Posted by: ldfrmc | January 11, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

SISSD1, "all turn gay...cannot reproduce our species."

Lots of gay men and lesbians reproduce. We just don't have the handicap of 'accidental' reproduction every time we have sex or make love. Sperm and ova in men and women is the same, gay or straight.

And when children come along for gay couples, it's because we really want to have them. They are not 'accidents' or treated as such - a real risk to human existence.

Posted by: ldfrmc | January 11, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Enough catering to these annoying, demanding, squeaky wheels. Good grief: the more they get the more they want. What’s next: everyone has to be gay? Perverts.

Posted by: newsboy3 | January 11, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Enough catering to these annoying, demanding, squeaky wheels. Good grief: the more they get the more they want. What’s next: everyone has to be gay? Perverts.

Posted by: newsboy3 | January 11, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

You needed to get input from Tony Perkins and Albert Mohler why, Ed? Are the Federal agencies involved required to get input from these pretend stakeholders or is it that the homophobes in FEMA and the TSA won't go on record? The Fairness Doctrine doesn't exist any more, remember?

Posted by: DaveinNorthridge | January 11, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The main problem of the religious right about same-sex marriage is that the latter tends to demonstrate that marriage should be based on love, only on love.

Posted by: rolandberger | January 11, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The main problem of the religious right about same-sex marriage is that the latter tends to demonstrate that marriage should be based on love, only on love.

Posted by: rolandberger | January 11, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

enough BS about homos and fellow whiners.any news when obozo and gang are getting us out of iraq/afghan and the rest of the crapholes? our military also has the right to live

Posted by: pofinpa | January 11, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I really can't understand why this wasn't presented as a straight news story - "State Dept revises rules" or something like that - instead of as an in-your-face one group gets a "victory".

One might be tempted to think that the editors of the on-line Post have an agenda.

Posted by: hohandy1 | January 11, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Equal rights = being called "mother" or "father." Special rights = being called "parent 1" and "parent 2" nomenclature right out of a DR. Seuss book!

This is the modus operandi of Gay rights groups, to "spin" the language so asking for special rights becomes "equal rights".

For example, Advocates for SSM are not pushing for marriage equality. They are advocating for the separate right to create gender segregated homes (male/male or female/female) as opposed to the existing right to create gender integrated homes (male/female) They want this separate right to be treated on an equal plane with the existing right.

This is nothing more than the discredited segregationist mantra of, “Separate but equal” applied to gender. In fact racial segregationists used the same line of reasoning to defend their policies in the 50's & 60's only the American people were smart enough back then to reject such Orwellian twisting of the language. It seems after 1984 many became more like Winston Smith and less like Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted by: gmd19521 | January 11, 2011 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The change from "Mother" and "Father" to "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" seems meant to be inclusive; but it is not. Although the changed form may reflect the seof-perceptions of gay and other same-sex parents, it will have the opposite effect on most opposite=sex couples. Mostw opposite-sex Parent 1s think of themseoves as Mothers.

Posted by: MarkDavidovich | January 11, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

The change from "Mother" and "Father" to "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" seems meant to be inclusive; but it is not. Although the changed form may reflect the seof-perceptions of gay and other same-sex parents, it will have the opposite effect on most opposite=sex couples. Mostw opposite-sex Parent 1s think of themseoves as Mothers.

Posted by: MarkDavidovich | January 11, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

----

You forget that same sex couples are mothers and fathers too. Being called parent 1 and parent 2 is only a small victory for homosexuals. Being able to choose father-father, or mother-father would obviously be the best case.

Posted by: smithir | January 11, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

As a father, I do not want to be referred to as "Parent 2". How about mother = parent 1 and father = parent A instead?

Posted by: matt_s | January 11, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Of course as always with gay rights we ignore the interests of the least represented social group, children. As adults we are comfortable with "parent 1" or "parent 2" do you really think children are comfortable that they live in Same sex households that are missing either their mother or father? Doesn't psychology & child development lift up the importance of the mother/child father/child relationship? Don't we know the effects of "absent father" "absent mother" on children? Even the LGBT community knows that "mother" & "father" are gender specific not gender neutral terms. That is why "Heather has two mommies" and one partner isn't referred to as "dad" and the other as "mom'. You really think this semantic hocus pocus covers that up? The State Dept doesn't which is why passports for children will retain the normative labels of mother & father.

Posted by: gmd19521 | January 11, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Screw the special interests group of a "Blueprint for Positive Change."

It's going to be torn down in two years anyway.

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | January 11, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Do Ask, do Tell at http://OutMilitary.com -the New Social Network for Gay Service Members and their allies!

Posted by: joined | January 11, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

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