US overturns cruel policy that denied citizenship to children of married same-sex parents born overseas

·3-min read

The US State Department will now grant US citizenship to children of same-sex couples born abroad in a landmark win for LGBT+ rights.

The new policy, which was announced on Monday (18 May), states babies born abroad to married parents – both LGBT+ and heterosexual – will be granted birthright citizenship as long as one parent is a US citizen and the child is related either genetically or gestationally to one parent.

This will now grant US citizenship to children born overseas through in vitro fertilisation, surrogacy or other assisted reproductive technologies.

Previously, the State Department required babies born abroad to have a blood relationship with the parent who is a US citizen.

The move has been heralded as a victory for the rights of LGBT+ families living abroad, many of who have been forced to lodge lawsuits to have their children’s birthright US citizenship recognised.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney at Lambda Legal, told ABC News that the policy change is “long overdue”.

He explained: “This has been a policy that was not only unlawful, as recognised by the courts in multiple cases, but that really caused harm and anguish to multiple families – stress and fear about the status of their children and their ability to be in the United States and their ability to have the full benefits and responsibilities of citizenship.”

Lambda Legal tweeted that the victory comes almost a year after the LGBT+ legal organisation and Immigration Equality “cemented two key victories on behalf of two same-sex couples whose children” were denied US citizenship at birth “because their parents are married same-sex couples”.

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Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, said in a statement the policy change by the State Department is a “remarkable moment for all the LGBTQ families” who have fought to have their children recognised as US citizens.

“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, the policy change came as US citizen Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari were in the middle of a lawsuit against the State Department for denying US birthright citizenship to their son, Lucas. Lucas was not recognised as a citizen because he was carried by Zaccari, an Italian citizen.

Blixt said the couple is “relieved and thankful” that their “fight for our family to be recognised” by the US government “has finally ended”. She said she is glad that Lucas will “finally be treated as my son and recognised as American”.

However, the State Department’s new policy does not change the requirements for children born to unmarried parents. The US will continue to not recognise children born to same-sex married abroad who are not married if the baby is not genetically or gestationally related to the US citizen parent.