Gay couple sues US for denying citizenship to 1 twin son

2018-01-24 13:03
Ethan Dvash-Banks, left, and his twin brother, Aiden, play in the living room of their apartment. (Jae C Hong, AP)

Ethan Dvash-Banks, left, and his twin brother, Aiden, play in the living room of their apartment. (Jae C Hong, AP)

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Los Angeles - Ethan and Aiden Dvash-Banks are toddler twins who share almost everything: The same toys, the same nursery, the same clothes and the same parents.

Everything but a toothbrush and US citizenship.

To remedy what their parents, a gay married couple, view as an injustice, Ethan Dvash-Banks became a plaintiff at the tender age of 16 months in a federal lawsuit against the US State Department that seeks the same rights his brother has as an American citizen.

"What we're trying to do is pursue justice for Ethan and correct a wrong that the State Department is continuing to pursue that might affect other couples," said Elad Dvash-Banks, his biological dad.

The lawsuit was one of two filed on Monday by an LGBTQ immigrant rights group that said the State Department is discriminating against same-sex binational couples by denying their children citizenship at birth.

Biological connection

The cases filed in Los Angeles and Washington by Immigration Equality said the children of a US citizen who marries abroad are entitled to US citizenship at birth no matter where they are born and even if the other parent is a foreigner.

The State Department said it doesn't comment on pending litigation, but pointed to guidance on its website that says there must be a biological connection to a US citizen to become a citizen at birth.

Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, said the State Department is wrongly applying a policy for children born out of wedlock to married same-sex couples.

"If a mother and father walk into a consulate and have a marriage certificate and birth certificate, they're never asked any questions about the biology of the child," said Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality.

"But the converse is also true and every same-sex couple will be asked that."

The other case filed on Monday involves two women, one from the US, and one from Italy, who met in New York, wed in London and each gave birth to a son.

The State Department didn't recognise the couple's marriage, the lawsuit said, and only granted citizenship to the boy whose biological mother was born and raised in the US.

Citizenship issues frequently arise with births overseas - even for heterosexual US citizens - and particularly with the use of artificial insemination and surrogates, said immigration lawyer Ally Bolour, who is not involved in the lawsuit.

The Supreme Court's rejection in 2013 of the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had barred the federal government from recognising same-sex marriages, opened the door to the potentially ground-breaking challenges now being brought, he said.

"This is an absolutely fascinating, cutting edge area of law that stems from (DOMA) being overturned," Bolour said. "It was just a matter of time for this issue to be decided by the courts."

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