Toddler Sues U.S. Over LGBT Discrimination After Twin Brother Is Given Citizenship and He Isn't

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Stuart Gaffney, left, and John Lewis, center, plaintiffs in the 2008 Defense of Marriage Act case, celebrate during the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco on June 28, 2015, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Recently, a toddler has been listed as a plaintiff in a case against the U.S. government that lawyers argue is an example of LGBT discrimination against his parents AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON

A 16-month-old toddler has been named as a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the government after his twin brother was given U.S. citizenship and he wasn't, in what an LGBTQ group has said is an instance of discrimination.

Ethan Dvash-Banks, while he might not know it, has found himself on the front lines of a string of legal battles following the Supreme Court's rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, which had barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

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The Associated Press reported that Ethan's parents, a gay married couple, have agreed to the lawsuit, filed Monday by an LGBT immigrants' rights group, Immigration Equality, against the State Department to seek the same rights for the infant as his brother.

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Andrew Dvash-Banks, an American citizen, and Elad Dvash-Banks, an Israeli, met while studying in Israel. The pair married in Canada in 2010, before they could have married in the United States, whose Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.

The couple both provided sperm to inseminate two donor eggs, and the twins were born from the same surrogate mother in September 2016.

The trouble started when they applied for citizenship for their sons at an American consulate in Toronto a few months later. An official there said a DNA test would be necessary to show who was the biological father of each child. After submitting the results, the couple received two envelopes: one contained a U.S. passport for Aiden, Ethan's brother, and the other a letter explained that Ethan's application had been denied because he was the biological son of Elad, not Andrew.

Immigration Equality, which has filed the suit, has said the children of U.S. citizens who marry abroad should be entitled to citizenship regardless of where they are born and whether their other parent is a foreigner.

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GettyImages-478935560
Stuart Gaffney, left, and John Lewis, center, plaintiffs in the 2008 Defense of Marriage Act case, celebrate during the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco on June 28, 2015, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Recently, a toddler has been listed as a plaintiff in a case against the U.S. government that lawyers argue is an example of LGBT discrimination against his parents AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON

Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, said the State Department was wrongly applying the policy.

"If a mother and father walk into a consulate and have a marriage certificate and birth certificate, they're never asked any questions about the biology of the child," Morris told the Associated Press. "But the converse is also true, and every same-sex couple will be asked that."

The State Department has not commented specifically on the case but has guidelines stipulating that a biological connection is necessary for citizenship to be granted at birth.

"What we're trying to do is pursue justice for Ethan," Elad Dvash-Banks, the boy's biological father, told the AP, "and correct a wrong that the State Department is continuing to pursue that might affect other couples."

Ethan has been living with his family in the U.S. on a tourist visa, but because it has now expired, he will be undocumented and his parents will need to secure a green card for him.

Toddler Sues U.S. Over LGBT Discrimination After Twin Brother Is Given Citizenship and He Isn't | U.S.