May 20, 2021

State Department policy grants citizenship at birth to children born abroad to same-sex parents

Statement from Candice Kerestan, International Chair of Democrat Abroad, Martha McDevitt-Pugh and Tré Shawn Griffin-Noordermeer, Co-Chairs of the Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Caucus

In a victory for American families abroad, the State Department has updated the interpretation and implementation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) with respect to transmission of citizenship to children. The State Department will now recognize children of same-sex married U.S. citizens who are born abroad as citizens at birth.

The previous State Department policy required that both parents be biologically related to a child in order to transmit citizenship. This unconstitutional policy discriminated against children born abroad, classifying them as “born out of wedlock” even though their parents were legally married. 

The updated policy addresses the realities of modern families and takes into account advances in assisted reproduction technologies (ART), which could not have been foreseen when the INA was enacted in 1954.

In a September 2020 letter to Americans Abroad, President Biden committed to rebuild a modern, agile State Department and provide equal treatment with respect to citizenship for children of same-sex couples born abroad.

The updated interpretation of Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act does exactly that.

At a time when LGBTQI rights are under attack at the state level, the Biden administration is making lives better for LGBTQI Americans and their families, both at home and abroad.