Saturday, 26 Sep 2020

Daughter of same-sex couple born in UK via surrogacy granted US citizenship

The daughter of a US married same-sex couple who was born in the UK via surrogate has been an American citizen since birth and should be given a passport, a judge has ruled.

Federal judge Michael Brown in Atlanta, Georgia, where the couple and their daughter live, wrote in an order that the child doesn’t need to be biologically related to both parents to be eligible for citizenship.

Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg, who are both American, filed a lawsuit in July 2019 following the State Department’s refusal to recognise their daughter, Simone, as a US citizen. The girl is now two.

They argued the current policy treats married same-sex couples as if their marriages don’t exist, making their treatment very different from married straight couples, violating the law and the American constitution.

Despite both parents being listed on her birth certificate, the State Department treated her as being born “out of wedlock”.

This, paired with the fact that her biological parent, Mr Gregg, had not lived in the US for five years prior to her birth, meant she was not considered a US citizen.

Mr Mize said: “We are so relieved that the court has recognised our daughter, Simone, as the US 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 recognise our daughter as a US citizen.”

Simone was born via surrogacy in July 2018 in the UK, three years after the couple got married.

Mr Mize was born and raised in Mississippi while Mr Gregg was born and raised in London with dual citizenship as his mother is a US citizen and his father is British.

The State Department, which has been ordered to issue the US passport for the girl, had previously appealed similar orders. A spokesperson said the department is aware of the ruling and is currently reviewing it alongside the US Department of Justice.

Lawyer Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, with the firm that filed the lawsuit, said: “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 US 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,” said the lawyer, whose group advocates for LGBTQ rights.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the case “pertained to surrogacy and it had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the parents.”

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