Mike Pompeo (Getty/Kevin Hagen)

Trump administration attempts to force son of gay couple to undergo DNA test to prove citizenship

Why is the State Department wasting precious time and resources in this cruel crusade?


Cody Fenwick
May 8, 2019 1:55PM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
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When President Donald Trump campaigned in 2016, he ran as an unconventional Republican — a boast which included a claim that that he was a “real friend” to the LGBTQ community, with some supporters asserting that he was “the most pro-gay Republican nominee ever.”

But in office, his administration has proven just as bigoted and opposed to the interests and rights of LGBTQ people as critics have feared.

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The latest broadside against the LGBTQ community is the State Department’s absurd effort to deny citizenship to one of the sons of the gay couple Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks. Andrew is a an American citizen, while his husband Elad is Israeli. Their sons, Aidan and Ethan, were born in Toronto in 2016, and now the State Department is insisting on forcing Aidan to undergo a DNA test. They want the family to prove he has a biological parent who is an American before he his citizenship is affirmed.

Andrew and Elad have fought this insistence from the government, arguing that they and their children should be treated the same as the children of a heterosexual couple with only one American parent. Typically, having just one American citizen parent is enough to guarantee a child’s citizenship.

The department has similarly fought Stefania Zaccar and Allison Blixt, another married couple in a similar situation, who have tried to obtain citizenship for their son.

I have argued previously that the State Department‘s insistence on proving a biological relationship between the American father and one of his sons is not based on a strict reading on the law. Instead, it’s a distorted reading of the text that seems intended with the singular purpose of excluding LGBTQ families. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter agreed in February, calling the department’s position a “strained interpretation” of the statute and siding with the family.

But as the Daily Beast reported on Tuesday, the department is nevertheless continuing to push the issue, appealing the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The report noted that the issue has already been firmly decided in that court.

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“This is settled law in the Ninth Circuit, which has already established that citizenship may pass from a married parent to a child regardless of whether or not they have a biological relationship,” Aaron C. Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, told the Daily Beast

Given the likelihood that its efforts will fail in the Ninth Circuit, the department may be planning to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, where it may have more chance of success.

But it just raises the question: What’s the point? If Andrew and Elad’s son is recognized as a citizen, who gets hurt or disadvantaged? Denying him citizenship clearly hurts the family, and there’s no clear benefit to anyone. So why is the State Department wasting precious time and resources in this cruel crusade?

The best explanation is that the push is being driven by people in the department, and perhaps by Secretary Mike Pompeo himself, with a bigoted attitude toward both non-citizens and LGBT couples. It’s about pushing a conception about who is really an American and which kinds of families matter, rather than about whether a particular child should be a citizen. The fact that innocent LGBTQ, binational families get hurt isn’t incidental to this aim — it’s the whole point.

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Cody Fenwick

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