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Same-Sex Couples Initiates Lawsuit After Daughter Denied Citizenship

October 8th, 2019

A same-sex couple in Maryland recently initiated a federal lawsuit to challenge the US's refusal to recognize the citizenship of their daughter.
A same-sex couple in Maryland recently initiated a federal lawsuit to challenge the US’s refusal to recognize the citizenship of their daughter.

A same-sex couple in Maryland recently initiated a federal lawsuit to challenge the State Department’s refusal to recognize the United States citizenship of their daughter, who was born in Canada earlier this year through the use of a surrogate. 

The lawsuit claims that a State Department policy discriminates against same-sex married couples and unlawfully treats the children of same-sex couples as if they had been born out of wedlock. 

Previous Litigation in This Area

An attorney for the couple has stated that the lawsuit marks the fourth of its kind to challenge the federal policy. For example, in February 2019, a California federal judge ruled that the child of a same-sex married couple has been a U.S. citizen since his birth. The State Department, however, is in the process of appealing this decision. 

Meanwhile, two other federal cases are pending in Georgia and Washington District of Columbia. The State Department has declined to comment on this matter publicly.

How the Citizenship Case Arose

The Maryland couple are naturalized United States citizens who were born in Israel. The couple’s daughter was born through gestational surrogacy in Canada in February 2019 using one of the men’s sperm in combination with a donated egg. The couple states that their privacy was first invaded when a state officer asked them questions about how their daughter was conceived and born. The couple, however, are the only parents the child has ever known.

Despite this, the State Department later determined that the child was not a United States citizen because the parent whose semen made the child had not lived in the United States long enough to meet a five-year residency requirement required under the Immigration and Nationality Act

The couple argues, however, that the five-year requirement is not meant to be applied to the children of married individuals in the United States. Additionally, the couple requests the court to find that the child has been a United States citizen since her birth and requested an order for the State Department to immediately issue her a passport. 

Arguments Made by Both Sides

The couple is currently represented by two lawyers from New York-based advocacy groups, Immigration Equality and Lambda Legal. In response to arguments made by the couples, government lawyers have argued that citizenship for foreign-born children is not a constitutional right for either United States citizens or the child seeking to gain citizenship. Instead, the lawyers claim that citizenship is a right granted by Congress. 

Additionally, the government lawyers argue, the Supreme Court has emphasized the importance of a biological connection between a child seeking to acquire citizenship and the United States citizen seeking to confer citizenship. 

The United States district judge in the case, however, has held that the Immigration and Nationality Act does not require that a child be born during his or her parents’ marriage to demonstrate a biological relationship with both married parents. 

Documenting Developments in LGBTQ Rights

In the last few years, there have been several obstacles as well as challenges in LGBTQ rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog is dedicated to documenting the most noteworthy of these changes in a way that considers both sides.

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