State Department continues effort to deny citizenship to same-sex couple’s son

Aiden (left) and Ethan (right) with their parents Elad (left) and his husband Andrew Dvash-Banks. Immigration Equality photo.

Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks thought they had succeeded in getting United States citizenship for their twin son Ethan. Their other son, Aiden, had already been granted citizenship. Aiden had citizenship, even though he was born in Canada, because his biological father is Andrew, who is a US citizen. Ethan’s biological father is Elad, who is an Israeli citizen.

In January, the couple, who were legally married in Canada in 2010, filed a lawsuit to force the US Department of State to issue a passport to Ethan. (See Gay couple sues after one twin's US citizenship denied.)

In February, a federal judge in California ruled in their favor, ordering the State Department to issue a passport for two-year-old Ethan. But the Department of State is appealing the district judge’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The district judge, in his ruling, noted that the language in the law granting citizenship to children born of married parents, one of whom is a US citizen, does not require a biological connection with the citizen parent.

He wrote that the law, “makes it clear that a biological relationship is not required between a child and his U.S. citizen parent if that child his born during the marriage of his parents to each other. Nothing in Section 301 [of the law] references a biological relationship requirement or suggests that in using the words ‘parent’ or ‘born . . . of parents,’ Congress intended to refer only to biological or genetic parents.”

He also added that the legislative history of the Immigration and Naturalization Act “clearly indicates that the Congress intended to provide for a liberal treatment of children and was concerned with the problem of keeping families of United States citizens and immigrants united.”

Ethan now has a US passport, issued as a result of the judge’s ruling.

The Department of State asserts that to become a citizen, the child’s biological parent must be a US citizen. That forms the basis of their appeal. On Monday, the State Department appealed the judge’s decision, continuing a years-long bid to strip Ethan of his citizenship, according to The Daily Beast.

“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,” said Aaron C. Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBT people in the immigration system, in an interview with the Beast.

“Morris successfully argued in federal court that a policy requiring genetic testing for the children of same-sex binational couples created a new double standard for citizenship: one for the children of gay couples and one for the children of straight couples,” the report continued.

“Morris also noted that in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the State Department has filed its appeal, the standard of using DNA testing to ensure a biological relationship between a child and a married U.S. citizen parent in order to confer citizenship has already been soundly rejected.

“’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,’ Morris said.”

“We’re outraged that the State Department is so intent on harming our family and the LGBTQ community,” Andrew and Elad said in a statement. “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.”

We wish them luck and a speedy victory in court.

Copyright The Gayly – May 8, 2019 @ 3 p.m. CDT.