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Parenting

Trump administration dealt crushing blow as judge rules gay couple’s child born via English surrogate is given citizenship

Patrick Kelleher September 1, 2020
Georgia gay couple Lambda Legal

A federal judge ruled in favour of James Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg (Facebook)

A gay couple’s child who was born via a surrogate in England is entitled to United States citizenship, a federal judge has ruled.

Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg, who live in Georgia, filed a lawsuit in July 2019 after the State Department refused to recognise their daughter Simone as a US citizen.

Because Simone is only biologically related to Gregg, the State Department ruled that the child was effectively born outside of marriage – despite the fact that Mize and Gregg are actually married.

More than a year after they began their legal battle, the Georgia couple’s rights have been vindicated in a ruling by US district judge Michael Brown.

Judge Brown ruled that Simone is not required to be biologically related to both of her parents to be entitled to US citizenship. He also ordered the State Department to issue a United States passport to the child.

Georgia gay couple Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg are ‘so relieved’ the court has ruled that their daughter is a US citizen.

“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,” Mize said in a statement.

“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.

“As a result of the State Department’s discriminatory actions, we have undertaken a long journey to have our daughter recognised as a US citizen.

“But today, that journey is complete, and we are overcome with gratitude, for our lawyers and for the court, for recognising us as a family that is simply trying to give our daughter the best possible start, which all children deserve.”

It is time for the federal government to stop defending this unlawful and unconstitutional policy.

The State Department had refused to recognise Simone as a US citizen despite the fact that both of her fathers have citizenship.

Because Gregg had not lived in the United States for the five years prior to Simone’s birth, the department refused to recognise her as a citizen.

The couple’s lawsuit, filed by Lambda Legal and Immigration Equality, alleged that the State Department treats married same-sex couples differently than married opposite sex couples. The lawsuit also claimed that the department’s policy violates the law and the United States Constitution.

Court ruling hailed as a ‘resounding victory’ for LGBT+ families.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior counsel and healthcare strategist at Lambda Legal, said the ruling was a “resounding victory” for LGBT+ families.

“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,” Gonzales-Pagan said.

“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.”

The ruling comes just months after another court ruled in favour of a married gay couple in Maryland, whose daughter was denied US citizenship after being born in Canada.

In that case, the judge ruled against the State Department’s argument that the child was born out of wedlock – however, the department has since appealed the ruling to the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

The State Department has also appealed a similar ruling in another case concerning a same-sex couple and their child.

 

More: citizenship, Derek Mize, Georgia, Jonathan Gregg, Parenting, Simone, surrogacy

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