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State Dept. Wrong to Deny Gay Couple's Son Citizenship, Judge Rules

Dvash-Banks family

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. State Department was wrong in denying birthright citizenship to one of the twin sons of a binational gay couple.

Los Angeles residents Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks, a U.S. citizen and an Israeli citizen respectively, have twin sons, one conceived with Andrew’s sperm and one with Elad’s, using eggs from the same donor, who then carried both children and gave birth to them moments apart in Canada. Their children also qualify for U.S. citizenship, but the State Department has ruled that Aiden, the child conceived with Andrew’s sperm, is a U.S. citizen, but his brother, Ethan, conceived with Elad’s sperm, is not. The couple learned of the State Department’s stance when they applied for passports for the boys, who are now 2 years old. They filed suit over the issue a year ago.

But John F. Walter, a federal judge in Los Angeles, ruled Thursday “that U.S. law does not require a child to show a biological relationship with both of their parents if their parents were married at the time of their birth,” as the two men were, the Los Angeles Times reports. It requires that biological relationship only if a child is born out of wedlock, he said. He called for the State Department to propose an agreement with the Dvash-Banks family that implements his ruling. The proposal is due by the end of February.

“This is a huge victory for Ethan Dvash-Banks and his family,” Aaron C. Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality and an attorney who helped represent the family, told the Times. “They wanted their twin boys in every way to be treated exactly the same. It really hurt them to have one child get the remarkable privilege of U.S. citizenship at birth and the other to be required to petition as an immigrant.”

“They felt that the U.S. government wasn’t respecting their marriage, which was true,” he continued. “By referring to this strange out-of-wedlock provision, they weren’t giving the couple the same rights as every other married couple.”

Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks expressed relief at the judge’s ruling. The State Department’s decision “hurt us every day,” they said in a statement. “Now our boys will be treated exactly the same, which is all we ever wanted.”

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