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 change comes as a record number of LGBTQ lawmakers are joining Congress.
A code of conduct change in the U.S. House of Representatives swaps gendered language for gender-inclusive terms in its official language.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, and Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, outlined the proposal Friday. It’s included in a package of “sweeping” rule changes that, among other things, promote diversity and inclusion in the 117th Congress.
The House approved the package Monday in a 217-206 vote on party lines, The Hill reports.
The rule change does not ban the use of gendered language in the House. Instead, it renames specific, official language found in the House rules.
The words himself and herself will be replaced with themself.
The term seamen will be replaced with seafarers.
Chairman will become chair.
Terms for familial relationships — such as mother, father, daughter, son, sister and brother — will be swapped with terms such as parent, child and sibling.
The phrase “submit his or her resignation” will be replaced with “resign.”
The phrases “he or she serves” and “he or she holds” will be replaced with ‘‘such Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner” serves or holds, respectively.
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, stepchild, 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.