Judge orders Trump administration to recognize citizenship of gay couple's child

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The girl was born in the United Kingdom to two married U.S. citizens via surrogate.

A federal judge ruled last week that the State Department has to recognize the U.S. citizenship of a child of a married same-sex couple. The couple, Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg, had applied for a U.S. passport for their daughter, Simone Mize-Gregg, who was born in Britain in 2018 with the help of a surrogate, but the department had denied their application.

The denial of the application was premised on the fact that one of the parents, although married to the other parent, did not have a biological relationship with the child. Both Mize and Gregg are listed as parents on their daughter's birth certificate, according to the New York Times.

Gregg and Mize sued the State Department last year. Lambda Legal, an organization focused on the rights of the LGBTQ community, and Immigration Equality, which advocates for LGBTQ and HIV-positive people in the immigration system, filed a lawsuit against the State Department last year on behalf of Gregg and Mize. At least two other couples are suing the department for similar reasons, the Times reported.

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In his decision in the case, U.S. District Judge Michael L. Brown said that "under the State Department's interpretation, a child cannot acquire citizenship ... unless his or her parents are married U.S. citizens and he or she shares a biological relationship with both parents."

"The State Department says two married men can never have a child abroad that it considers having been born in wedlock," Brown noted.

"The Court finds that Section 301(c) [of the Immigration and Nationality Act] does not require children to share a biological relationship with both citizen parents in order for those children to acquire citizenship at birth," Brown ruled.

The State Department argues that policies on birthright citizenship are applied equally to everyone, regardless of a couple's sexual orientation. The State Department told the Washington Blade it is reviewing the decision with the Department of Justice.

Mize said of the decision, "We are so relieved that the court has recognized our daughter, Simone, as the U.S. 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 recognize our daughter as a U.S. citizen."

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior counsel and health care strategist at Lambda Legal, stated, "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."

On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany commented on the case during a press briefing. Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson asked her, "The Justice Department continues to appeal these cases. How can the administration claim to be proud of its LGBTQ record when it's litigating against these couples?"

McEnany responded, "So that pertained to surrogacy and it had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the parents, and this administration and president will proudly stand on a record of achievements."

As proof of the administration's "achievements," McEnany mentioned the administration's "leading a global initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality throughout the world," which Donald Trump didn't seem to be aware of when he was asked about it in 2019; the administration's pledge to eliminate HIV transmission in 10 years; and its decision to ease FDA restrictions on blood donations by gay and bisexual men amid blood shortages during the coronavirus pandemic.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.