A same-sex couple, Allison and Stefania, are suing the US Government alleging discrimination because one of their children was not granted American citizenship, whilst the other was granted citizenship.
US citizen Allison Blixt and her Italian wife Stefania Zaccari had two babies in London, England. They each carried one child to term using their own eggs and an unknown sperm donor.
American citizenship was granted to Stefania and Allison’s second son, Massimiliano, but not to their first son, Lucas.
This is an example of where laws change, and don’t match up. According to the agency’s website, “at least one biological parent must have been a US citizen when the child was born” for a child to qualify for birthright citizenship. However, this is where marriage equality in the US doesn’t necessarily follow through to parental rights.
Allison and Stefania are listed on both children’s birth certificates, and English law recognises them as the boys’ parents. Naturally they both believed that Allison’s heritage would pass onto both her sons, especially as they were married.
The court filing says the US consulate denied citizenship to Stefania and Allison’s first child, Lucas, now two years old; on the grounds that he was not a blood relation and so they had to use the statute for children born “out of wedlock”, despite the fact that Allison and Stefania were married.
However, lawyers for Stefania and Illinois-born Allison say they were legally married in their adopted home of England before their sons’ births.
The lawsuit says that at the US consulate “Stefania and Allison were asked a series of invasive and legally irrelevant questions about how their children were conceived and born”. Unbelievably, they were grilled with questions such as “Where is the donor from?”,”Whose eggs were they?” and “Who carried the baby?”. The decision violates the Immigration and Nationality Act establishing that “babies born abroad are US citizens at birth when one of the child’s parents is a married United States citizen”, says the court filing.
After a law against same-sex marriage was overturned in the US in 2013, same-sex couples were allowed – like heterosexual couples – to bring their foreign spouses into America. But the same ruling did not cover the children of same-sex couples, and legal advocates say this is discriminatory. Not only is it discriminatory, but it also risks pulling families apart.
Allison was offered to become her first son’s legal stepmother and bring him to the US as an immigrant, but as she is his legal Mum already, she rightly did not want this option.
The lawsuit says the US Department of State’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”.
There is a petition in place, which you can sign here (it already has over 1,400 signatures, but needs over 2,000)