An American couple’s daughter, who was born abroad with the help of a surrogate, was denied citizenship. Her parents, two gay men, are suing for discrimination.
This summer, James Derek Mize and his husband, Jonathan Gregg, celebrated their daughter’s first birthday at home in Atlanta with a party that coincided with WorldPride. Dressed in a rainbow outfit, the birthday girl, Simone, did what toddlers are bound to do: Took a fleeting glance at her presents and instead found delight in her favorite “toy,” an outdoor water hose.
It was a memorable day for the parents. It was also a respite from the looming reality that Simone, who was born abroad with the help of a surrogate, would soon be at risk of being removed from the country that is her home.
“I try not to think about ICE coming to our door and deporting our baby,” Mr. Mize said in an interview last week. “That is a pretty hard thing to think about.”
On Tuesday, the couple filed a discrimination lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the department’s decision to deny citizenship to Simone, even though both Mr. Mize and Mr. Gregg are American.
Their case, highlighted in a New York Times article in May, has drawn renewed attention to a State Department policy for children born abroad through assisted reproductive technology, which has come under scrutiny in recent months for its effect on same-sex couples. In June, nearly 100 Democratic members of Congress called on Mr. Pompeo to reverse the policy, which they called “cruel” and “deeply disturbing.”
Mr. Mize was born and raised in the United States. Mr. Gregg was born in Britain to an American mother, making him an American citizen as well. The couple, who married in 2015 in the United States, decided to start a family with the help of a close British friend, who offered to be their surrogate. Simone was born in Britain last year, using a donor egg and the sperm of her British-born father.
But when the family returned to their home in the Atlanta area and later applied for Simone’s American passport, she was denied citizenship.
The family was subject to a State Department policy that places an emphasis on biology when considering citizenship at birth. If the source of the sperm and egg do not match her married parents, the case can be treated as “out of wedlock,” which comes with a higher bar to citizenship.
In their case, Mr. Gregg, who moved to the United States to be with his husband, did not meet a five-year residency requirement. His lawyers say that requirement would not have applied if the case had rightfully been treated as in wedlock.
nytimes.com. July 23, 2019 by Sarah Mervoch
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