A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled Thursday that the United States State Department was wrong to deny citizenship to the twin son of a gay married couple. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter wrote in his ruling that 2-year-old Ethan Dvash-Banks, “has been an American citizen since birth.”
The State Department had only conferred citizenship status to his twin brother Aiden.
The Dvash-Banks case, was one of two filed in Los Angeles and Washington, by the LGBTQ Legal Advocacy group Immigration Equality. A spokesperson for Immigration Equality told the Los Angeles Blade Friday that “the children of a U.S. citizen who marries abroad are entitled to U.S. citizenship at birth no matter where they are born and even if the other parent is a foreigner.”
“This is justice! We are hopeful that no other family will ever have to go through this again. It’s like a giant rock has been removed from our hearts,” Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks said in a statement provided by their attorney.
NBC News reported that the suit in the California case was filed by the twin’s married fathers, Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks, sought citizenship for Ethan, that his brother Aiden has a citizen.
Each boy was conceived with donor eggs and the sperm from a different father — one an American, the other an Israeli citizen — but born by the same surrogate mother minutes apart.
The government had only granted citizenship to Aiden, who DNA tests showed was the biological son of Andrew, a U.S. citizen. Ethan was conceived from the sperm of Elad Dvash-Banks, an Israeli citizen.
According to the Associated Press, Andrew Dvash-Banks was studying in Israel when he met his future husband, Elad, an Israeli citizen. Because they couldn’t marry at the time in the U.S. or in Israel, they moved to Canada, where they wed in 2010. The children were born by a surrogate in September 2016.
Everything seemed fine until the couple brought the twins to the American consulate in Toronto a few months later to apply for citizenship and a State Department Consular official began asking probing questions that the couple described as “shocking and humiliating.”
The consular official told them she had discretion to require a DNA test to show who the biological father was of each boy and without those tests neither son would get citizenship. The men knew that Andrew was Aiden’s biological father and Elad was Ethan’s but they had kept it a secret and hadn’t planned on telling anyone.
After submitting the DNA test results that proved who fathered each boy, the couple received a large and small envelope from the U.S. on March 2. The big one included Aiden’s passport. The other was a letter notifying Andrew that Ethan’s application had been denied.
The family has since moved to Los Angeles to be closer to Andrew Dvash-Banks’ family.
Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality said the U.S. State Department is discriminating against same-sex binational couples by denying their children citizenship at birth.
In his written ruling Thursday Judge Walter noted, […] “that the State Department statute does not contain language “requiring a ‘blood relationship between the person and the father’ in order for citizenship to be acquired at birth.”
The Washington suit involves two women, one from the U.S., and one from Italy, who met in New York, wed in London and each gave birth to a son. The State Department didn’t recognize the couple’s marriage, the lawsuit said, and only granted citizenship to the boy whose biological mother was born and raised in the U.S. That suit is still pending.
Reporting by The Associated Press, NBC News, and the staff of the Los Angeles Blade