U.S. State Department Appeals Federal Court’s Decision Granting Citizenship to Child of Same-Sex Couple

New York, NY, May 7, 2019 – Yesterday, the U.S. State Department appealed the decision of a California federal district court that recognized the birthright citizenship of Ethan Dvash-Banks, the child of a same-sex bi-national couple. The government refuses to recognize the validity of Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks’ marriage, and continues to defend its discriminatory policy, which conditions the recognition of birthright citizenship on a biological link to a U.S. citizen parent.

Andrew Dvash-Banks, a U.S. citizen, and Elad Dvash-Banks, an Israeli citizen, had twin sons via surrogacy. However, the State Department only recognized Aiden’s citizenship because of his biological connection to Andrew, and denied Ethan’s. Immigration Equality challenged the decision on behalf of the family, and the district court determined that as a child born to a married U.S. citizen parent, Ethan Dvash-Banks was entitled to birthright citizenship. Learn more about the Dvash-Banks family here.

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Aaron C. Morris, Executive Director of Immigration Equality, said, “Once again, the State Department is refusing to recognize Andrew and Elad’s rights as a married couple. The government’s decision to try to strip Ethan of his citizenship is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and morally reprehensible. This is settled law in the Ninth Circuit, which has already established that citizenship may pass from a married parent to a child regardless of whether or not they have a biological relationship.”

If a U.S. citizen marries a foreign national, and they have a child while they live abroad, the couple’s children are entitled to birthright citizenship. Proving a biological connection between the child and the U.S. citizen parent is not required by law. As such, the State Department’s policy is contrary to the Immigration and Nationality Act, and to the clear intent of Congress when it passed the law.

Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks, parents of Ethan Dvash-Banks, said, “We’re outraged that the State Department is so intent on harming our family and the LGBTQ community. The fight is not over, and we will not rest until our family is treated fairly and equally. Nothing can tear us apart. The four of us are unbreakable.”

Immigration Equality also filed a case on behalf of Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari, another same-sex bi-national couple whose child, Lucas Zaccari-Blixt, was denied citizenship due to the State Department’s discriminatory policy. Learn more about the Zaccari-Blixt family here.

Immigration Equality is the nation’s leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization. We represent and advocate for people from around the world fleeing violence, abuse, and persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.