Issues of citizenship and same-sex parenting have come together in one case that could have repercussions for couples in Pennsylvania and across the country. Two married men used an egg donor and a surrogate mother to conceive and carry twin sons, who were born in September 2016. The process involved using the sperm of both fathers, so one child was each father’s biological son. The two men were living in Canada at the time of the birth; one father is a U.S. citizen while the other father is an Israeli citizen.

After the births, the fathers sought to report their births abroad to the U.S. consulate and receive passports for the boys. However, while the State Department provided a certificate and passport to the biological son of the U.S.-citizen father, it refused to do the same for the biological son of the Israeli father. The fathers filed suit, challenging the government’s decision, and a federal judge agreed with them in February 2019. The judge said that any child born during the marriage of his or her parent does not need to show a proven biological relationship to be considered their child.

The fathers had argued that the State Department’s approach violated their rights to due process under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The judge did not rule on the issue, finding that the family’s position was right and the State Department was in error. Advocates cheered the ruling and urged the federal government to officially change its policy to protect the rights of same-sex parents.

Some families with international connections may be concerned about certain immigration laws. An immigration lawyer can advise parents about how they can protect the rights of their growing family under the law.