For years, many children born abroad to married same-sex couples have been denied U.S. citizenship. The government claimed that if the child didn’t have a biological tie to a parent who is an American citizen, their request for citizenship was invalid. But on May 18, that heartbreaking and unjust policy finally came to an end.
Brooke Sopelsa of NBC News reported on the State Department announcing a distinct and important change in the policy language concerning citizenship requirements for the surrogate child. While the department previously required children born abroad to have a biological tie to a U.S. citizen, the new policy states that “children born outside the United States to married parents, at least one of whom is an American citizen, ‘will be U.S. citizens from birth if they have a genetic or gestational tie to at least one of their parents.’”
According to Sopelsa, “the State Department said its updated interpretation and application of the Immigration and Nationality Act ‘takes into account the realities of modern families’ and advances in assisted reproductive technology, or ART.”
Following the announcement, Aaron Morris, executive director of an LGBTQ immigrant rights group called Immigration Equality, said in a statement that the policy change was “a remarkable moment for all the LGBTQ families who fought the U.S. State Department’s unconstitutional policy.”
“It demonstrates that when our community is united and relentlessly pushes back against discrimination, we win,” Morris said. “We have once again affirmed that it is not biology but love that makes a family.”
According to Immigration Equality, all of the children of couples they represented eventually won U.S. citizenship for the lone case of Allison Blixt and her wife Stefania Zaccari, an Italian citizen. The citizenship case for their son Lucas was still pending in court following a lawsuit they filed in an attempt to override the previous rule. But now that that previous policy has been amended, Blixt and Zaccari can see the finish line for Lucas’ citizenship.
“We are relieved and thankful that our fight for our family to be recognized by the government has finally ended. We knew we would succeed eventually, as trailblazers before us [had] fought and won marriage equality,” Blixt and Zaccari said in a statement provided by Immigration Equality. “Our marriage is finally recognized and treated equally. Lucas, who made me a mother, will finally be treated as my son and recognized as American.”