There are several issues to consider here.
First is bodily ownership. Who owns the body of a minor child? I believe each of us as individuals own our bodies and have sovereignty over them. To grant a parent the right to choose to alter the natural form of the body is a breech of the child's right to his body. We cannot ethically sign consent for another for any other amputation of healthy, normal, non diseased tissue. The foreskin is a part of the normal male penis of boys. Girls also have a foreskin, it's the small flap of skin that covers the clitoris, called the clitoral hood.
The Unites States government enacted a federal law banning any cutting on the genitals of female minor children. According to this site: http://mgmbill.org/usfgmlaw.htm
(c) In applying subsection (b)(1), no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom the operation is to be performed of any belief on the part of that person, or any other person, that the operation is required as a matter of custom or ritual.
And in the congressional findings:
Section 645(a) of div. C of Pub. L. 104-208 provided that: ``The Congress finds that--
``(1) the practice of female genital mutilation is carried out by members of certain cultural and religious groups within the United States;
``(2) the practice of female genital mutilation often results in the occurrence of physical and psychological health effects that harm the women involved;
``(3) such mutilation infringes upon the guarantees of rights secured by Federal and State law, both statutory and constitutional;
``(4) the unique circumstances surrounding the practice of female genital mutilation place it beyond the ability of any single State or local jurisdiction to control;
``(5) the practice of female genital mutilation can be prohibited without abridging the exercise of any rights guaranteed under the first amendment to the Constitution or under any other law; and
``(6) Congress has the affirmative power under section 8 of article I, the necessary and proper clause, section 5 of the fourteenth Amendment, as well as under the treaty clause, to the Constitution to enact such legislation.''
Clearly, the United States government recognized that female genital cutting is performed as a religious and cultural practice in the areas where it is commonly done. Clearly the US govt recognizes that our laws and Constitution allow for the govt to over ride these religious and cultural practices to ensure the rights of the minor child to their whole body, and to not be forced to experience an act that is the religious or cultural beliefs of another. It is very clear.
The FGM law does not not equally protect minor male children from forced genital cutting. (I say forced because the child is restrained and a painful amputative procedure is performed upon him without his consent - clearly meeting any definition of forced.) I don't think you can have it both ways. You either protect all children or none. Gender should NEVER be the deciding factor between what is and what is not a crime - ever.
As to the rights of an individual to practice their religion, I fully support that as long as their religion does not harm another. The US courts have certainly limited religious exercise before. A parent cannot refuse life saving medical intervention for their child based upon the parent's religious beliefs and the courts have intervened to protect the child.
How do you feel about Christians tattooing a cross on the neck of their children? That would be a permanant mark of the parent's religion, just as circumcision is upon a Jewish or Muslim boy. Our acceptance of male circumcision is deeply steeped in cultural acceptance of the bogus medical reasons used to justify it and a misguided respect of religion. I say misguided because our laws guarantee an individuals right to practice their religion, not force it upon the body of another. I recently read an article about religious trends in the US. It stated that approximately 60% of adults did not follow the religion they were raised with. I think it is a violation of a man's religious freedom to mark him with the religious belief of another (his parents) before he is of age to make such decisions. As to religious circumcision, I would think it would carry a far greater meaning for a man if he were to elect to embrace a religious belief and choose circumcision for himself as a part of that embrace instead of having it forced upon him at a time when he had no ability to choose for himself.
I fully support this ban and I hope to live long enough to see this issue before the US Supreme Court where they will either extend equal protection or repeal the FGM law. I believe in real and genuine equality.