Same-Sex Couples Refused Immigration Benefits

The Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor (2013), guarantees same-sex couples the same immigration benefits as heterosexual couples. However, recently, some same-sex couples have been facing hurdles in securing citizenship for their children.

James Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg, both American citizens, are a married same-sex couple and on May 21, 2019, they received a letter denying their daughter citizenship because she was born abroad to a surrogate. Their case is the latest in a series of families being denied immigration benefits because they used assisted reproductive technology to have a child.

In Andrew Mason Dvash Banks and E.J. D.-B. v. the U.S. Department of State (2016), a same-sex married couple experienced similar difficulties in acquiring U.S. citizenship for their son who was born through a surrogate in Canada. Even though one of the fathers was a U.S. citizen, the Department of State failed to recognize the validity of their marriage and required more documentation to prove that the child born was in fact the biological son of a U.S. citizen. After several years in the court system, a United States District Court judge finally declared that their son acquired U.S. citizenship at birth.

In January 2018, in Washington, a child born overseas to a married same-sex couple, Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari, was denied US citizenship. In May 2019, a married same-sex couple, Roee and Adiel Kiviti, were told that their daughter would not be granted U.S. citizenship. Both parents are American citizens.

It was previously thought that these issues were settled by a Ninth Circuit decision which held that in cases of children born to married parents (at least one of which is a U.S. citizen) there is no requirement of a blood relationship for the child to be deemed a U.S. citizen. However, these issues appear to be unsettled.

We will provide further updates as they come.