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Hillary Clinton Was Angry About Attempts to Scrap 'Mother' and 'Father' from US Passport Applications

Hillary Clinton feared that an attempt to add gender-neutral terms to US passport applications would incur the wrath of certain media outlets, led by the Republican Sarah Palin and others.

by VICE News
Oct 1 2015, 5:55pm

Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA

Emails released as part of a response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by VICE News has revealed that Hillary Clinton was not exactly happy at the US State Department's announcement to remove the words "mother" and "father" and replace them with gender-neutral terms on US passport applications and Consular Report of Birth Abroad documents in 2011.

Heralded as a welcome change by some, Clinton however feared that it would incur the wrath of certain media outlets, led by the Republican Sarah Palin and others.

The announcement to change "mother" and "father," tucked away in a State Department news release in December 2010, was picked up by the Washington Post the following month, where the change was welcomed by the gay rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, held as a "positive step" for American families.

"It was time that the federal government acknowledged the reality that hundreds of thousands of kids in this country are being raised by same-sex parents," said vice-president Fred Sainz, as quoted by the Post.

Yet in a sharp email titled "Wash Post article," sent from her private account to her aides Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan in January 2011, Clinton wrote: "Who made the decision that State will not use the terms 'mother' and 'father' and instead substitute "parent one and two?

"I'm not defending that decision, which I disagree w and knew nothing about, in front of this Congress. I could live w letting people in nontraditional families choose another descriptor so long as we retained the presumption of mother and father," she continued.

Clinton concluded: "We need to address this today or we will be facing a huge Fox-generated media storm led by Palin et al." 

Just 32 minutes later, her aide replied: "Reaching out to folks to find out." The following day, an email contained an Associated Press article, entitled: "State Department steps back on gender-neutral parentage, won't replace terms 'mother,' 'father.'"

Related: The State Department Just Released Another 6,300 Pages of Hillary Clinton Emails

While the State Department "stepped back" in 2011, British passport forms were updated with the terms "parent one" and "parent two." Now, when completing an application for a US passport, an applicant must provide the parental information of "Mother/Father/Parent."

On Wednesday evening, more than 6,000 emails were released by the US State Department sent by Clinton during her time as Secretary of State, including messages sent between October 2010 and September 2011.

In March, it was revealed by the New York Times that Clinton had used a personal email to conduct official business during her tenure and, since that revelation, it has been suggested that the use of a private email to send messages relating to official government business was an attempt to duck FOIA requests.

Batches of emails have been released on a monthly basis, which have shone a light into day-to-day government business, though some messages have been heavily redacted.

Wednesday's batch also included an email sent to Clinton which indicated that government officials tried to pressure the Washington Post into suppressing details about a WikiLeaks cable that revealed information about the US cooperating with Turkey to share intelligence about Kurdish militants.

Related: Email to Hillary Clinton Show Effort to Quash Story About Wikileaks and Turkey

But there have been concerns of the security of using private email accounts, and how it could be potentially vulnerable to hackers. As reported by Reuters, when it was revealed in June 2011 that Chinese hackers had tried to steal passwords of Gmail accounts, the news was discussed among Clinton and her aides, with Anne-Marie Slaughter writing: "NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively."

But there have been some amusing moments within the latest batch, such as when Clinton asked in an email what does "fubar" mean. Mills replied: "Fubar is unprintable on civil email."