This lesbian couple is suing the US government
The US State Department have refused to grant Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari's child citizenship
"We're just parents who want the best for our kids," say Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari, the married lesbian couple who have suddenly found themselves at the centre of a media whirlwind following the announcement of the landmark lawsuit they, along with a second binational LA based gay couple, Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks, filed against the US State Department on Monday 22 January.
US citizen Blixt and Italian born Zaccari live in London due to the restriction that the former DOMA legislation in the US placed on their relationship status.
After marrying in 2009, Blixt and Zaccari wanted to start a family, and in 2014 Zaccari became pregnant with their first child. When Lucas was born in January 2015, Blixt was automatically granted parent status and named on the birth certificate, even without biological affiliation, because the couple were married when he was conceived. For Blixt it was also automatic, that like any child of a US citizen, Lucas should receive that status and be connected to his mother's family, recognising his heritage.
However, armed with all the completed and correct paperwork and fully expecting a seamless process (Blixt is a lawyer after all), their visit to the US Embassy in Spring 2015 proved otherwise. At a personally invasive meeting, where they were asked by Embassy staff questions the couple regarded irrelevant to their family set up, such as "Whose eggs were they?", "Who carried the baby?" and "Where is the donor from?". They were told then and there that under the facts of the responses, that Zaccari carried him from her own eggs and an anonymous donor, Lucas failed to qualify and was denied citizenship.
"We were totally shocked at that," says Blixt. "We assumed it would be fine as we are married." They were determined not to be deterred and started researching what their next steps might be. At the same time, Blixt became pregnant with the couple's second son, Massimiliano. When the time came to submit baby Massi's citizenship paperwork, the couple decided to re-apply for Lucas. The Embassy staff were supportive but said it was likely that Lucas would again be denied.
Nevertheless, the application was resubmitted, and after waiting a few hours, the results came in. Massimilano was given US citizenship because he was born to Blixt, and Lucas was not. The Embassy staff were apologetic and said their hands were tied to follow the process in place. The process they follow is a Departmental Policy to use the Statute for children who are born out of wedlock in cases this like.
Determined to find a solution to what they feel is Lucas's birth right, and overcome a huge sense of inequality, Blixt reached out to New York based legal charity Immigration Equality. They were immediately interested in the case and brought in probono support from a US law firm. Blixt and Zaccari met the team representing their case last summer and were keen to maintain the "human element" of this story, which ultimately is about family says Blixt. The couple also acknowledge that winning the suit may have a positive impact on many more families in a similar situation.
Alongside the lawsuit filing, an online petition has gained traction due to the impressive media and online response, which has been "emotionally overwhelming" for the couple. Ultimately Blixt says, they "don't want to have end up telling Lucas that he faces this discrimination" and see it as their role as parents to "do whatever we can do."
You can view the petition here.
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