For the Dvash-Banks family, the battle against the U.S. State Department is not over.
Earlier this year, husbands Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks were thrilled to win a court battle against the department. A federal judge granted the couple’s 2-year-old son the same citizenship as his brother. That said, now the State Department is appealing the California judge’s decision.
The battle over citizenship began after the couple got married in Canada in 2001. The Canadian couple then bore twin boys through surrogacy in 2016. Each boy was conceived using a donor egg and sperm from one of the two fathers.
Afterward, the entire family attempted to move to America, Andrew’s home country, to live closer to Andrew’s family. While the move for Israeli-born Elad was initially smooth thanks to Andrew’s dual-citizenship, gaining citizenship for one of the children was much more complicated.
When the couple tried to obtain U.S. citizenship for their sons, a $900 DNA test was used to prove the children’s paternity. When it was found that only Aidan was the biological child of Andrew, and Ethan the biological son of Elad, Ethan was denied citizenship. After attempting to correct this, the couple decided to sue.
“The agency’s policy unconstitutionally disregards the dignity and sanctity of same-sex marriages by refusing to recognize the birthright citizenship of the children of married same-sex couples,” the first lawsuit said. “The State Department’s policy is arbitrary, capricious and serves no rational, legitimate, or substantial government interest.”
It was then, in February, that District Judge Jon F. Walter ruled to keep the family together. He ruled that the State Department was acting on a “strained interpretation” of immigration law. He stated the law does not contain language, “requiring a ‘blood relationship between the person and the father’ in order for citizenship to be acquired at birth.”
But now the State Department doesn’t agree as they have applied for an appeal to the ruling. Now, the case will go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Once again, the State Department is refusing to recognize Andrew and Elad’s rights as a married couple,” said Immigration Equality, which has been representing the family, executive director Aaron Morris to the Daily Beast. “The government’s decision to try to strip Ethan of his citizenship is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and morally reprehensible.”
Morris then insists that the real issue at this case’s base is, “Do you have the right to have your marriage recognized as a same-sex couple, just like all other couples?”
In addition, Morris pointed out:
“This is settled law in the Ninth Circuit, which has already established that citizenship may pass from a married parent to a child regardless of whether or not they have a biological relationship.”
Fathers Andrew and Elad also shared their outrage at the State Department’s decision to appeal.
“We’re outraged that the State Department is so intent on harming our family and the LGBTQ community,” the couple shared said in a statement. “The fight is not over, and we will not rest until our family is treated fairly and equally. Nothing can tear us apart. The four of us are unbreakable.”
Thankfully, there is some good news in all of this. Ethan will continue to have his passport and citizenship until the 9th Circuit makes its final decision. Hopefully, that will remain afterward, but we will see.