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Bi-national gay couples' children denied US citizenship

29 January 2018
Appeared in BioNews 935

Two same-sex married couples have filed lawsuits against the US State Department after being refused US citizenship for one of their children.

One partner in each couple is not a US citizen. Both couples are legally married, their children were conceived and born outside the USA during their marriages, and both partners in each couple are the only legal parents listed on their children's birth certificates.

Twin sons of Elad and Andrew Dvash-Banks were born minutes apart via surrogate. One of the twins was conceived with Elad's sperm, and the other with Andrew's. The other couple, Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari, each carried and gave birth to a son conceived using donor sperm.

However, the US State Department only recognized the children biologically related to the US citizens to be eligible for the citizenship. The other children, in the eyes of law, cannot claim the same right.

The State Department notes on its website that children born through assisted reproductive technology are granted citizenship at birth if they are biologically related to a US citizen parent.

However, Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality which filed the lawsuits, claims that the policy used in both cases should only apply to 'children born out of wedlock'. The correct policy for married parents does not require a blood relationship.

The Dvash-Banks were specifically asked to undergo genetic testing to prove their relationship to their sons. Morris claims that the policy is discriminatory as it suggests that the same-sex marriage 'doesn't count'.

'When a man and a woman walk into a consulate of the US with a marriage certificate and a birth certificate, no one asks them any questions about biology,' said Morris.

The demand for biological relatedness was intended to prevent immigration fraud and trafficking. However, the use of assisted reproductive technology means that some children may not meet the requirement. Same-sex couples are particularly affected as they often rely on artificial insemination and surrogacy.

'The fact that the State Department's policy has led children identified by their birth certificates as boys with the same parents to have different nationalities listed on their passports crystallises both the indignity and absurdity of the policy's effect,' stated the lawsuit.

24 May 2021 - by Sylvie Armstrong 
The USA will now grant citizenship to more babies born abroad via surrogacy...
5 August 2019 - by Suzi Denton 
A married couple has been told that their daughter is ineligible for US citizenship despite the fact that they are both American citizens...
15 July 2019 - by Professor Sonia Suter 
The State Department's citizenship policies for children born abroad through assisted reproductive technologies, however, are out of touch, leading to devastating denials of US citizenship for children born to American citizens in same-sex marriages...
9 April 2018 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The Mississippi Supreme Court has overturned a ruling that an anonymous sperm donor has parental rights over a child born to a lesbian couple, upholding the legal parenthood of the non-biological mother...
19 March 2018 - by Dr Mary Yarwood 
A UK man and woman in a platonic marriage have been granted a joint parenting order for their child, born via surrogate...
18 December 2017 - by Georgia Everett 
A woman has asked the Hawaii Supreme Court to overturn a ruling denying her request to sever parental rights to a child born to her ex-wife...
10 July 2017 - by Jen Willows 
A same-sex French couple have won a partial victory in their fight to be recognised as the legal parents of their child, who was born via surrogate in the US...
13 February 2017 - by Dr Alice Margaria 
It is not the first time that a court has been called to rule on the recognition of family ties established between a male couple and their twins born from surrogacy abroad. But the recent ruling of the Court of Appeal of Milan has attracted particular interest because of its absurd consequences...
4 February 2013 - by James Brooks 
The French Justice Minister's instruction to courts to accept citizenship applications for children born via surrogates in other countries has unleashed a political and popular furore...
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