When Elad Dvash-Banks, an Israeli national, and Andrew Dvash-Banks, an American citizen, welcomed their twin boys, it seemed like everything was perfect. They were now a family of four and they had so many experiences to come.
Elad and Andrew met in Israel ten years ago when Andrew was there studying. The two fell in love, but since they couldn't get married in either the United States or Israel, they moved to Canada and got married in 2010. They knew they wanted to have children, so they used an anonymous egg donor and a surrogate, and welcomed their twins in 2016.
However, when the couple brought their sons to the American consulate in Toronto to apply for citizenship, things got a little more complicated.
The couple was told by the consular official that DNA tests would be required for each boy to prove who was the father was, and if they didn't take the tests then neither child could get citizenship. They complied, and about a month later they received two envelopes deciding the fate of their boys.
Aiden, the biological son of Andrew, received a large envelope containing his American passport and his American citizenship. Ethan, the biological son of Elad, was told he was denied citizenship. Even though both parents are the legally exclusive parents for the twins, Ethan was denied because of his DNA.
“That moment was hard,” said Elad Dvash-Banks. “What the state department decision has done was to basically tear my family apart.”
According to the State Department, there must be a biological connection to a United States citizen at birth in order to become a citizen at birth. Even though their surrogate mother was a U.S. citizen, she was not the donor so it apparently doesn't count.
“The message is that you’re not fully equal. Your family is less than other families,” said Andrew Dvash-Banks. “My son has been wronged here by the government. We’re fighting this to protect our son and our family.”
The family secured a tourist visa for their toddler son, but that recently expired. They are now in the process of getting him a green card, like Elad, but until that time comes, the young child is considered an undocumented immigrant.
“That is something that keeps us up at night – the safety and wellbeing of our child,” said Andrew.
The couple are now suing the United States State Department, with the help of a LGBTQ immigration rights lawyer, saying the company is discriminating against them by denying their son citizenship.
“The state department is treating same-sex couples as if they were not married, and they are disenfranchising their children,” said Aaron C. Morris, the couple’s attorney. “Stripping a child of citizenship is one of the most heinous detriments the government could do to a child simply because his parents are gay, lesbian or bisexual.”
The couple hopes to change the laws so that everyone, not just their kids, will have the same rights.
“We are going to make history," Elad said.