Designers of forms must often consider a diverse range of possibilities to cover everyone that might need to fill the form out, especially when it comes down to issues of identity. I’ve been party to quite a few conversations of how or whether to prompt for one’s gender pronoun (Sex, Gender, or “I identify myself with the pronoun _____?” Male, Female, other, none?)
Today there was a pretty funny case of an antiquated form suddenly being a major problem: New York City’s online marriage license application was built to track a bride and groom, but since the state legalized gay marriage, it suddenly forced same-sex spouses to identify which partner was “bride” and “groom.” To the city’s credit, they managed to change the field to suit everyone with “Bride/Groom/Spouse A” and “Bride/Groom/Spouse B” in the same day, so it wasn’t so much harmful as a good example of how data should be formatted in a matter that will address all its suppliers both today and in the future.
(That said, they still have to bicker over whom is Spouse “A” and Spouse “B.”)
The city clerk’s online forms offered only the choice of “bride” and “groom.” Mr. Kaplan, 50, a vice president of the Stonewall Democrats, and his partner of six years, Anthony Cipriano, 43, were puzzled, but also amused.
“He said, ‘You’re making me the bride?’ ” Mr. Kaplan recalled. “It was confusing on many levels.”