A gay couple with 1-year-old twin sons has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department after one of their boys received U.S. citizenship and the other was denied.
Ethan and Aiden Dvash-Banks are the children of Elad Dvash-Banks, an Israeli national, and Andrew Dvash-Banks, an American citizen. Biologically, Ethan is the child of Elad and Aiden is Andrew’s child. They had the twins through surrogacy.
Elad and Andrew married legally in Canada before the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down in the U.S. The couple wasn't concerned about their children having American citizenship because of the law regarding children of American citizens born abroad.
The boys were born in Canada. By law, the children of Americans born abroad are still considered legal U.S. citizens.
However, that wasn’t the case.
“We decided we are ready with our kids to move to the U.S,” Elad Dvash-Banks said. “We went to the U.S. consulate in Toronto with all the paperwork, everything ready for our certificate of birth abroad. Then the lady at the window, she asked, ‘Do you know who these kids are genetically related to?’”
The fathers were taken aback by the question. Andrew and Elad were forced to submit DNA tests and other documentation of their biological relationships to their boys, though no such requirement exists for the children of married U.S. citizens.
The U.S. government has now denied Ethan is a U.S. citizen because Elad, his biological father, was born in Israel.
An LGBTQ immigrant rights lawyer filed the suit Monday on behalf of the family, arguing that the U.S. is discriminating against the couple by denying their child citizenship at birth.
“He should be treated as any other child born to a U.S. citizen like his twin brother, like any other child born to a U.S. citizen abroad,” Andrew Dvash-Banks said. “It was just an awful, awful moment for both of us, for our whole family.”
The couple is now living in Los Angeles. Ethan came to the U.S. on a tourist visa, which expired last month. His dads have now applied for a green card for the toddler.
“It’s really important for us that our kids can fulfill our full potential,” Elad Dvash-Banks said. “That’s even more sensitive when one twin is entitled to something and the other one isn’t.”
The State Department said it does not comment on pending litigation but, according to their website, “a child born abroad must be biologically related to a U.S. citizen parent” to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth."