U.S. Expands Birthright Citizenship Of Babies Born Abroad To Same-Sex Couples

The State Department now recognizes the citizenship of babies born abroad to same-sex married couples, even if an American parent is not genetically related.

In a victory for LGBTQ rights, the State Department updated its policy to recognize the U.S. citizenship of babies born abroad to same-sex married couples, regardless of whether an American parent is biologically related.

Previously, the U.S. did not recognize citizenship at birth for the babies of married couples living abroad if the baby wasn’t related genetically, or by birth to, an American citizen in the couple.

Under the new policy, children born to same-sex or heterosexual couples abroad through in vitro fertilization, surrogacy or other reproductive technology will be recognized as U.S. citizens at birth as long as at least one of the parents is American.

In a statement Tuesday, the State Department said its updated interpretation of U.S. immigration law “takes into account the realities of modern families” and the advances in assisted reproductive technology. It will enable more Americans to transmit citizenship to their children born abroad.

However, the U.S. will continue to not recognize as citizens at birth babies of same-sex parents abroad who are not married if the baby is not genetically or gestationally related to the American parent.

LGBTQ rights advocates have pointed out for years that U.S. immigration law disproportionately discriminated against same-sex couples by requiring proof that a baby born abroad to married couples was biologically related to an American parent.

Many same-sex parents have had to fight in the courts to have their children’s U.S. citizenship recognized.

“No family should have to go through the anguish, stress and indignity we went through,” Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg told ABC News in a statement. Last year a federal judge ruled in their favor after Mize and Gregg, a married gay couple and both U.S. citizens, fought a legal battle for the citizenship of their daughter, who was born to a surrogate in Britain.

“It was deeply traumatizing to have our own government refuse to recognize our child as a U.S. citizen because we are a gay couple,” they said, adding that they were “humbled that our fight, as well those forged by other families, was able to play a part in bringing about this change.”

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