ATLANTA — Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a gay couple against the U.S. State Department for refusing to recognize the citizenship of Simone Mize-Gregg, the daughter of U.S. citizens Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg.
Lambda Legal alleges that State Department policy treats married same-sex couples as if their marriages did not exist, unconstitutionally stripping their children born abroad of their rightful U.S. citizenship.
“Simone was born to two dads, who lovingly and intentionally brought her into the world, and their family is entitled to equal respect from the federal government,” said Karen Loewy, senior counsel for Lambda Legal and one of the family’s attorneys, in a statement. “The Supreme Court has been clear that married same-sex couples cannot be denied the same protections that different-sex couples receive, and that includes the right to be recognized as their children’s parents regardless of who has a biological connection to a child. The State Department has no business refusing to recognize Simone as an American citizen just like her parents. We will not allow this State Department to treat LGBT families like second-class citizens.”
Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg were married in New York in 2015. They had their daughter Simone via surrogacy in England, in 2018 and both fathers are listed on her birth certificate. When they applied for recognition of her U.S. citizenship, the U.S. consulate in London rejected their application. Because only one of Simone’s fathers has a biological connection to her, the State Department is disregarding Jonathan and Derek’s marriage and is treating Simone as though she was born out of wedlock, a classification which requires more stringent requirements for recognition of her citizenship.
The Immigration and Nationality Act states that children of married U.S. citizens born abroad are U.S. citizens from birth so long as one of their parents has lived in the U.S. at some point. Both men are U.S. citizens.
“The State Department’s policy is not only cruel, it is unconstitutional. The government refuses to recognize Jonathan and Derek’s marriage and all of Simone’s rights as a U.S. citizen,” said Aaron C. Morris, Executive Director of Immigration Equality and one of the couples’ attorneys. “The fight for marriage equality is not over, and we will not stand down until the State Department changes its unlawful policy.”
Plaintiffs Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg said, “Becoming Simone’s fathers has been the greatest privilege of our lives. Her beautiful voice, her hugs, her toddling around the house—these are daily blessings in our home. We are filing this litigation today because, as her parents, we have a duty to protect our daughter.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.