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Same-sex couple sues after US denied citizenship to one of their two sons

Same-sex couple sues after US denied citizenship to one of their two sons

Stefania and Allison with sons Lucas and Massi

Stefania Zaccari and Allison Blixt are suing the US State Department after they denied citizenship for one of their two children, but approved their second child.

Allison is originally from the States and Stefania is from Italy. They met in New York in 2006 and started dating long distance after Stefania had to go home from her trip.

They wanted to live in the US but due to the Defence of Marriage Act (a law that prevented same-sex couples marrying), they moved to London together.

There, they got a civil partnership in the UK in 2009. They then upgraded that to a marriage in January 2015.

In the same month after they married, Stefania gave birth to their first son Lucas.

They went to the American Embassy in London to register his birth as a US citizen and after asking several ‘very personal’ questions, they told the couple Lucas would not get citizenship.

Stefania and Allison had their second son Massi in January 2017, carried by Allison this time.

Allison, Stefania, Lucas and Massi Zixt
Family. | Photo: supplied

So when they went back to the US Embassy, they applied for citizenship for both sons. But the US State Department denied Lucas and approved Massi.

This is because Massi has a genetic link to Allison, a US citizen but Lucas does not.

Allison said: ‘Essentially, Lucas and Massi, even though they’re both our children – we are their parents on both birth certificates – they are not treated the same.

‘That is really painful. It’s also really horrible to have to explain that to Lucas when he’s a bit older,’ she said.

‘The guidelines are deeply discriminatory’

Aaron Morris, executive director for Immigration Equality told Gay Star News: ‘The [US State Department] guidelines are deeply discriminatory for same-sex couples.’

He added: ‘What’s peculiar about Allison and Stefania’s case is they meet all of the criteria for their son Lucas to be a United States citizen.’

The current US State Department guidelines mean officials can ask about genealogy of the parents on a case-by-case basis.

But Aaron Morris believes this is systematically unfair.

He said: ‘When an opposite-sex couple applies for citizenship for their child, they go in with a marriage certificate and birth certificate and the government easily approves it without probing about how a child was created.

‘It just doesn’t happen.

‘For Allison and Stefania, it was one of the first things they were asked. As soon as they disclosed Lucas isn’t genetically linked to Allison, they immediately denied his application,’ he explained.

Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari with Lucas and Massi
Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari with family. | Photo: DesiLu Photography

So he’s taking their fight to court in a lawsuit against the US State Department. It’s a similar lawsuit to gay couple Elad and Andrew, who were denied citizenship for one of their twins on the same grounds.

He believes the State Department guidelines are unlawful. Basically, the guidelines haven’t caught up from marriage equality becoming a reality in the States in 2015.

Aaron said: ‘They’re not ignorant about our concerns, or the discriminatory application of the policy. They have consistently not disclosed the purpose of the policy publicly, which is really frustrating.’

‘I don’t anticipate that they’re just going to give up’

The guideline states: ‘At least one biological parent must have been a U.S. citizen when the child was born.’

An official at the US State Department told GSN: ‘We do not comment on active litigation.’

But Aaron points out an unfair double-standard with these guidelines. If a non-US lesbian couple used sperm from a US donor, the US State Department would still reject their application.

Aaron argues they can’t have it both ways in asking for a biological link from at least one parent.

The earliest decision on the lawsuit could be five months from now, says Aaron. ‘It could could go for much longer depending on how much the government wants to fight.’

He added: ‘I don’t anticipate that they’re just going to give up.’

See a related article:

Gay dads file lawsuit after one twin is denied US citizenship