The saga of twin boys, born merely four minutes apart, yet finding themselves on opposite sides of an American citizenship conundrum, has left the nation grappling with age-old policies and the evolving definitions of family.
One Twin Has Us Citizenship, the Other Doesn’t
In March last year, two seemingly inconspicuous envelopes arrived at the Brentwood residence of Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks. For young Aiden Dvash-Banks, the parcel held a gateway to the American dream: a U.S. passport.
However, a starkly different outcome awaited his twin brother Ethan, whose American dream seemed to have been snatched away from him before it began. His application for citizenship had been denied.
Despite sharing the same womb and birthplace in Canada just 16 months prior, only Aiden now holds legal U.S. citizenship status.
This puzzling scenario has set the stage for a major lawsuit against the State Department.
It’s All in the DNA
The crux? The policy surrounding birthright citizenship for children born overseas hinges on blood relation, which many argue discriminates against LGBTQ+ couples.
The twins were conceived using donor eggs and sperm from both fathers. Aiden is genetically connected to Andrew, a U.S. citizen by birth, while Ethan’s biological ties trace back to Elad, born in Israel.
Based on the Immigration and Nationality Act’s current wording, the State Department asserts that Ethan lacks the necessary “blood relationship” to Andrew to be granted citizenship.
Andrew, speaking to The Times, lamented, “As a parent, my No. 1 job is to protect my sons. I can’t allow anyone to treat them differently. Yet, that’s what my government is doing.”
The Twins Have a Mutual Aversion to Broccoli
Their twins are indistinguishable in every other way – from their mutual aversion to broccoli to their shared love for Elmo.
Yet, as it stands, their legal identities are worlds apart, with Ethan’s future in the U.S. potentially marred by restrictions.
Elad, contemplating the repercussions, stated, “If he’s not a U.S. citizen at birth, he can’t become a U.S. president. A child shouldn’t start his life with, ‘You can’t do this.'”
At the heart of this situation is a family’s struggle to maintain privacy and integrity.
Laws From a Bygone Era
The couple, who initially planned to keep their sons’ biological connections private, found their personal decisions thrust into the spotlight by governmental policies.
The lawsuit contends that the criteria cited by the State Department predominantly pertain to children born out of wedlock.
Therefore, they argue, such stipulations shouldn’t apply to the Dvash-Banks twins, children of a legally married couple.
Legal professionals suggest that these laws are from an era where the concept of family was more traditional and perhaps more narrow in scope.
The Journey to Familyhood Has Been Full of Hurdles
This case emphasizes the singular challenges binational LGBTQ+ couples face, with Jackie Yodashkin of Immigration Equality highlighting the magnitude:
“If the goal is to keep families together, why would you ever create a situation where you have an undocumented baby and a U.S. citizen twin brother?”
The couple’s journey to familyhood has been full of hurdles. They met in 2008, married in 2010, and settled in Canada after facing legal challenges in the U.S.
It was only after a landmark 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which recognized rights for married gay couples, that Elad could even contemplate applying for a green card.
Questions About Their Sons’ Conception Left Them Humiliated
When the twins were born, the couple’s hopes soared. Yet, those hopes were quickly grounded during a visit to the U.S. Consulate in Toronto.
A series of invasive questions about their sons’ conception left them humiliated. Eventually, they were told a DNA test would determine the twins’ futures.
Elad poignantly remarked, “If we were a hetero couple, she would never ask that because she would assume we are husband and wife.”
The implications of Ethan’s status reverberate. A family trip to Israel was abandoned due to visa complications, emphasizing the tangible impact of policy on everyday life.
“This Is a Piece of History Because We Fought for You, and We Changed the World”
Elad, ever the determined father, proclaimed, “We’re going to do whatever it takes to help Ethan get what is rightfully his.
I know I will tell them, look at this – this is a piece of history because we fought for you, and we changed the world.”
This story highlights the challenges faced by binational LGBTQ+ couples in the U.S., numbering around 36,000. It raises a crucial question: In an age where definitions of families are changing, isn’t it time our laws catch up too?
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Mix and Match Studio. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.
Source: LA Times