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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.

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