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Pennsylvania

Metcalfe opposes ‘parent’ replacing ‘mother,’ ‘father’ on birth certificates

Tribune-Review
| Monday, January 15, 2018 6:09 p.m
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State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is challenging the new way parental information is reported on Pennsylvania birth certificates in a change that Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration says better accommodates same-sex couples.

Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, and 26 other state legislators think the change violates the state’s vital records law by replacing “mother” and “father” on birth certificates with “parent” and “parent.”

Calling the change a “matter of great concern” in a letter to the governor, the legislators say that the state Health Department should be spending its time and money catching up on a backlog of requests for birth and death certificates rather than making changes to birth certificates.

The Health Department made the change last August.

Among the state legislators, all Republicans, who signed Metcalfe’s letter was Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth, who is running in a March special election to fill the congressional seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy.

The letter from the lawmakers doesn’t say anything about same-sex marriage, but a spokesman for Wolf said the change was updated to reflect the legality of same-sex marriage. It says the governor stands by the change.

“The Department of Health updated birth certificates to include all families and reflect the fact that same-sex marriage is the law of the land in Pennsylvania,” spokesman J.J. Abbott said in an email. “Gov. Wolf continues to support making government more respectful of all families and will continue to ensure state government treats all families with the dignity that they deserve.”

Metcalfe said in the letter that he sought information on the change after learning about it last September.

He wrote that he was told the Bureau of Vital Records made the change after it anticipated a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The letter asserts that the administration’s “unilateral change, without seeking statutory change from the General Assembly, is in violation of the law.”

A Health Department spokeswoman said in an email that the law tasks the department with designing vital records forms and that the department has fulfilled that obligation.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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