Yes, mothers and fathers still exist

On, which (having retreated on opposing homogamous marriage) is busy promoting its “new conversation on marriage,” Elizabeth Marquardt writes: “Where do babies come from? The state of New York seems unsure.”

Her link to a “report” is to one of those “you wouldn’t believe what my friend saw” posts on the Christian conservative site First Things:

A friend’s wife recently gave birth. He reports that the New York birth certificate asks for the sex of the mother, and the sex of the father.

It goes on to mock people who think seriously about sex and gender. And so the thing starts spreading around the religious-conservative sky-is-falling blogosphere.


I’m not too embarrassed to say I spent 15 minutes trying to look this up. Live and learn.

It’s hard to find information about birth certificates, because everything online keeps steering you to ways to order birth certificates, not create them. But, in New York state it appears there is a state system, and a state system excluding New York City. On the New York City site, there is an Electronic Birth Registration System, described here. It asks for a lot of information about the mother and father, but not their sex or gender.

I didn’t find the equivalent for the rest of the state, but the state’s Department of Health reports that they follow National Center of Health Statistics (NCHS) guidelines, which seem to refer to this revised birth certificate recording form, which was revised in 2003. In addition to health information, it records the mother’s and father’s marital status (mother only), country of birth, education, Hispanic origin, and race. The mother is “the woman who gave birth to, or delivered the infant.”

The only mention of sex (or gender) pertains to the child: “Print or type whether the infant is male, female or if the sex of the infant is not yet determined.” And “not yet determined” is a temporary state, as the recording instructions clarify:

An N code for “not yet determined” should not be allowed for any record in the file at the time the file is closed. NCHS will query states to obtain the sex of the infant for all records still retaining the N code at the time the file is closed.


6 thoughts on “Yes, mothers and fathers still exist

  1. Some states do have birth certificates that don’t specify “mother” or “father” – though they don’t ask for the mother and father’s sex (which is clearly ridiculous). New York might not be one of them, but states that use “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” on their birth certificates have found that it reduces the hassle for same-sex families without requiring extra effort from anyone. I remember some election-season controversy about Romney refusing to allow such birth certificates in MA while he was governor. I thought California was one that did “Parent 1” and “Parent 2,” but all I could find in a quick search were birth certificate applications that asked for “mother/parent” and “father/parent.”


    1. I’d like to see that. If they don’t record the characteristics of the mother (and father if known), then they are not complying with the federal guidelines, and they’re messing up federal stats. Which is possible, of course. Thanks to anyone who can show us such forms.


      1. Here’s the California records application, which shows “mother/parent” and “father/parent”:

        It’s worth noting that California is also the only state I know of that does “prebirth contracts,” where a judge can order that both parents’ names be put on a future birth certificate, with permission from their surrogate, if they’d like to avoid doing a second-parent adoption later.

        Here’s a news story about Romney rejecting the plan for “father or second parent” being put on MA birth certificates:

        And here’s a story about France proposing “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” (unrelated to our federal stats implications of course): That could be where some of my confusion is coming from, but as you said, it’s difficult to find copies of recent state birth certificate forms online. I bet Nancy Polikoff would know for sure. 🙂

        In looking for these links, I also found that federal passports now ask for “mother/father/parent” instead of “mother” or “father” (

        Federal-level birth certificates for children born overseas are also now reported to be gender neutral (, though the application itself just says “father or mother” and “father or mother’s spouse”:


      2. Thanks! That California record is a records application, for finding a birth certificate – not the same as what is collected for the birth certificate. The Massachusetts form would still have had the birth mother on it, just giving the option for the second parent (no radical break from the past, in which bio fathers’ identities often were not recorded). So: still nothing in the U.S. about not recording the birth mother, as a woman.


  2. Elizabeth, head shake, Marquardt.
    She writes this kind of stuff all the time.
    What was the other one that upset her so much?
    Oh yes, her husband was helping her daughter open a Google account and Google asking something similar to, “Are you, male, female or other.”

    She had a hissy fit because they had to then explaine to their 8 year old daughter about gender being non binary. She was mad at Google for providing those 3 choices she felt it should only say male or female, in order to, wait for it, “Protect the children”

    I’ll never ever forget her saying that she accepts the inevitibility of gay marriage but she is not going to, in her exact same words, “not going to do a happy dance”.

    When David lost right wingers on his Board he put Johnathan Rausch on the Board, and looks up to him as a Great Gay Leader. I have never seen such lukewarm support for Civil Marriage for Sexual Minorities as I have seen at Family Scholars. I have now been banned from there twice.

    What most people do not realize is that they heavily, heavily censure comments by deleting them, BUT they only ever block pro gay commenters. I have never seen them block a conservative commenter. You have no idea the censorship that goes on over there. It does not matter how civilly you make your point, they do content censoring. They want their website to portray a certain point of view and they accomplish that be censoring ppl and comments. It is a complete joke, a farce.

    Johnathan Rausch is a HomoCon, and David has latched on to him holding him up as a great gay leader. Here this talk just took place last October, you really should listen to it. But for those of you who won’t, if you read the comments I transcribed some alarming parts of the discussion. As is typical David deleted some of my comments. This video and David’s comments in the Discussion tell you everything you need to know about Blankenhorn. He likes to act humble (occasionally) but honestly I have not met a man of his “stature” with thinner skin. He is extremely thin skinned. But go ahead and you be the judge


Comments welcome (may be moderated)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s