Gay Couple Sues U.S. State Department for Denying Their Daughter’s Citizenship

The couple's child was allowed to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa, but it is set to expire.

A gay married couple living in Atlanta filed suit on Wednesday against the U.S. State Department for refusing to recognize their daughter as a U.S. citizen.

James Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg (below) married in New York in 2015, and had their daughter, Simone Mize-Gregg, via surrogacy—using a donor egg and Gregg’s sperm—in England in 2018. Both men are listed as fathers on the birth certificate, and both are American citizens.

The couple wasn’t anticipating any issues when they applied for their daughter’s U.S. citizenship, but in April, the U.S. State Department denied the request, according to a release from Immigration Equality, which is representing them in the case.

Simone was allowed to enter the United States on a tourist visa, but it is about to expire.

“I try not to think about ICE coming to our door and deporting our baby,” Mize told The New York Times. “That is a pretty hard thing to think about.”

The State Department is treating same-sex married couples like single parents, the statement argues, where proof of a biological relationship is required, as well as having resided in the U.S. for fives years. But as both men are U.S. citizens and are married, those requirements should be applied to them, their lawyers state.

“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 in a statement.

“The fight for marriage equality is not over, and we will not stand down until the State Department changes its unlawful policy.”

Last month, nearly 100 Democratic members of Congress urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reverse the policy, calling it “cruel,” “offensive,” and “deeply disturbing.”

“Suing your Government on behalf of your daughter is a really sad way to spend time,” Derek Mize wrote on Facebook.

“That struck me for the first time yesterday as we were preparing our talking points for the press today. The sadness gets lost in the excitement of civil rights litigation, the gratitude we have for the lawyers, and the anger and indignity of being told we are not a family. When those feelings fizzle out, there is just a real and resounding sadness that remains,” he added.

Derek Mike said preparing for the suit “has already stolen away precious moments” with their daughter, and has strained “our health, our relationships, and our careers.”

However, he continued by saying they have learned “the love we all have for our children gives us willpower to withstand anything on their behalf.”

“So, with God, family, friends, and lawyers, we can fight the State Department.”

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