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Why Is the State Dept. Still Discriminating Against LGBTQ+ Families?

Blixt at left with her family

End the cruel hoops that same-sex parents like Allison and Stefania are forced to jump through.

I'm Allison Blixt, an American citizen born and raised in the U.S. My wife and I have two sons, yet only one of them is recognized by the U.S. government as having U.S. citizenship.

Fifteen years ago, I met my wife Stefania Zaccari when she was visiting New York City from Rome. We knew early on in our relationship that we wanted to build a life together. At the time, we couldn't live in New York because the Defense of Marriage Act prevented me from sponsoring Stefania for a green card, so I left everything behind and we relocated to London.

We got married in 2009. In 2015, we welcomed our first son, Lucas, who Stefania carried. The U.K. government declared us both to be birth parents. A few weeks after his birth, we took Lucas to visit the U.S. Embassy to apply for his Consular Report of Birth Abroad and passport. I wanted to ensure our child had all the rights that come with being an American citizen.

I was certain he would be recognized as American, but when we met with the clerk, she barraged us with questions. Who carried Lucas? Whose eggs were used? Whose sperm? Where was the donor from? We were shocked.

Children born abroad to a married U.S. citizen are U.S. citizens from birth. We sat impatiently as different-sex couples and their babies seemingly went through a straightforward process without the same invasive questioning. Eventually, the clerk told us that because I wasn't Lucas's genetic or gestational mother, the State Department would not consider him a U.S. citizen from birth.

In fact, the State Department's policy deems my marriage to Stefania invalid, despite Supreme Court rulings stating that doing so is unconstitutional. It treats Lucas as born "out of wedlock," and Stefania as a single mom. Because I didn't carry him, they don't treat me as his parent at all. This mistreatment brings back the feelings of sadness, frustration, and disappointment in my country that I felt years ago when we had to relocate to be together.

This was not the case with our son Massi, who I carried. His citizenship was acknowledged based on all of the same documents we had filed for his brother. We tried once more to get a passport for Lucas, but again they denied him. This is illegal discrimination against same-sex couples and families, plain and simple. For our family to move to New Jersey in late 2019, I had to sponsor both Stefania and Lucas for green cards. Luckily, I could afford it, and we could move, but that never should have been necessary for my son.

Some might say the harm of navigating a bureaucracy to stay together or move to another country is no big deal. That it's no affront to human rights if one child has a green card and the other a passport. But you try telling your child his government sees him as "less than" and doesn't see me as his mom at all. And while I'm thankful we found a way to keep our family together, I know this policy will separate many families.

In 2018, Immigration Equality filed a case on our behalf against the State Department for recognition of our son as a U.S. citizen from birth -- and to change the policy for all LGBTQ families. Other couples like us have taken the State Department to court over the policy, and every federal judge who has heard their arguments recognized the couples' child as a U.S. citizen from birth. Unfortunately, the harmful policy remains, and Lucas has not been recognized as American.

Ours is the first case about this policy to move forward under the Biden administration, and we're hoping the government will finally act differently. This Mother's Day, I call on the State Department to acknowledge that both Stefania and I have always been, in love and in law, equally Lucas's moms.

Same-sex couples and their families deserve equal treatment. The government must right the wrongs it has perpetuated for so long. This is the moment for the State Department to recognize marriage equality and support my family's dignity.

Allison Blixt is a mother and client of Immigration Equality.

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