House Dems. Delete Terms 'Mother' and 'Father,' Redefine 'Family Member' in Gender-Neutral Rules

Michael Foust | Contributor | Tuesday, January 5, 2021
House Dems. Delete Terms 'Mother' and 'Father,' Redefine 'Family Member' in Gender-Neutral Rules

House Dems. Delete Terms 'Mother' and 'Father,' Redefine 'Family Member' in Gender-Neutral Rules

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed new rules Monday that – for the first time – delete gender-specific terms such as “father,” “mother,” “himself” and “herself” and replace them with gender-neutral language like “parent” and “themself.”

The new rules for the 117th Congress, which passed 217-206, also erase all pronouns from the rules.

In one specific instance, the new rules delete “himself or herself’’ in place of ‘‘themself.” They remove phrases such as “he or she” in place of phrases like “Member” and “Delegate.” They also redefine the meaning of “relative” and “family member.”

A Democratic press release lauded the historic change, saying the new rules “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender-neutral.”

But critics, including evangelist Franklin Graham, said Democrats had gone too far.

“I like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s response. He tweeted, ‘This is stupid. Signed, – a father, son, & brother,’” Graham wrote on Facebook. “God ‘created them male and female’ (Genesis 1:27). This is shaking a fist in the Creator’s face, trying to deny His authority.’ If those claiming the name progressive are allowed to have their way, we won’t even recognize this nation in a very short time.”

The new rules change the meaning of the word “relative” by deleting language that previously defined it as a “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, grandson, or granddaughter.”

In its place is a new definition of “relative”: “parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling, first cousin, sibling’s child, spouse, parent-in-law, child-in-law, sibling-in-law, stepparent, step-child, stepsibling, half-sibling, or grandchild.”

The new rules similarly redefine the meaning of “family member.”

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), in a floor speech, applauded the Democrats for making the rules “more inclusive.”

But Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in a floor speech, said it was a “race to wokeness.”

The new rules passed after one hour of debate.

Photo courtesy: Alejandro Barba/Unsplash

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.