We now have a victory in gay parents’ fight against the U.S. State Department.
Yesterday, a federal court in Georgia ordered that the Trump Administration’s State Department recognize the two-year-old daughter of married couple Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg as a U.S. Citizen. According to a press release from Lambda Legal, who are representing the family alongside Immigration Equality, two-year-old Simone will now be issued a U.S. passport.
This joyous victory comes after a yearlong court battle between the family and the U.S. State Department. Derek and Jonathan married in New York in 2015. The couple then welcomed their daughter Simone, through surrogacy in England, in 2018. When they applied for Simone’s citizenship through the U.S. consulate in London, their application was rejected. The government’s explanation was that Simone was only biologically connected to one of her fathers. They then treated her as being born out of wedlock and not eligible for citizenship. This then led to the 2019 lawsuit.
A federal court just ordered the Trump administration to recognize the birthright citizenship of and issue a passport to #BabySimone, the daughter of a same-sex couple who are both citizens. Proud to represent this family w/ @IEquality! https://t.co/5GUGDaYZ7q
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) August 27, 2020
This is, unfortunately, an increasing occurrence when it comes to gay couples having children through surrogacy abroad. Despite the government automatically recognizing children of heterosexual couples that were born abroad as U.S. citizens, the State Department has frequently rejected this idea with gay parents. Last week, the State Department decided to appeal a federal judge’s decision accepting the citizenship of another gay couple’s child. They did so on the grounds of a new interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“The U.S. Department of State interprets the INA to mean that a child born abroad must be biologically related to a U.S. citizen parent,” the department explained in its initial rejection of the child’s citizenship. “Even if local law recognizes a surrogacy agreement and finds that U.S. parents are the legal parents of a child conceived and born abroad… if the child does not have a biological connection to a U.S. citizen parent, the child will not be a U.S. citizen at birth.”
But in terms of Derek, Jonathan, and Simone, the State Department will have to back off… for now.
“We are so relieved that the court has recognized our daughter, Simone, as the U.S. citizen she has been since the day she was born. When we brought Simone into this world, as married, same-sex parents, we never anticipated our own government would disrespect our family and refuse to recognize our daughter as a U.S. citizen,” said Derek Mize in the press release. “As a result of the State Department’s discriminatory actions, we have undertaken a long journey to have our daughter recognized as a U.S. citizen. But today, that journey is complete, and we are overcome with gratitude, for our lawyers and for the Court, for recognizing us as a family that is simply trying to give our daughter the best possible start, which all children deserve.”
“Today’s court decision is a resounding victory for LGBTQ families. The court has declared baby Simone, the marital child of Derek and Jonny, to be a U.S. citizen since birth and ordered the State Department to issue her a U.S. passport. We are very pleased the court found that the agency’s policy was irreconcilable with the law and our Constitution’s guarantee to equality because it treated the children of married, same-sex parents differently from the children of other married parents,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Senior Counsel and Health Care Strategist at Lambda Legal. “This is the second federal court this summer to rule against the State Department’s policy to treat children of married, same-sex parents as children “born out of wedlock” and not entitled to birthright U.S. citizenship. It is time for the federal government to stop defending this unlawful and unconstitutional policy. No family should have to face the fear and uncertainty of having their child’s citizenship status be held in limbo.”
“We celebrate the court’s decision, which acknowledges what has been true since the day she was born. Simone Mize-Gregg is a citizen of the United States. Today’s decision in Georgia reaffirms what every other federal court who has heard this issue has held: family means more than biology alone. The State Department should change its discriminatory and unconstitutional policy immediately before it hurts another family.” Aaron C. Morris, Immigration Equality Executive Director.
Source: Lambda Legal,