Rich Vaughn, IFLG: Gay Dads' Twin US Citizen Regardless of Genetics

Judge Rules Twins' Citizenship Not Contingent on Genetics

Amid so many gravely concerning headlines about immigration recently, at least one immigration story had a happy ending last week: A federal judge overturned the government’s earlier decision to deny U.S. citizenship to a twin boy born via IVF and surrogacy—while granting citizenship to his twin brother, born within minutes to the same surrogate.

As we wrote about this case last year, the original, surreal State Department ruling was based on the boys’ genetic relationships to their gay fathers.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, Elad and Andrew Dvash-Banks met 10 years ago in Israel, where Elad grew up. Unable to legally marry either in the U.S. or Israel at that time, the couple moved to Canada, where they were legally married in 2010. Their sons were born via egg donation and surrogacy in 2016, and both fathers’ names were listed on both their birth certificates. Although both fathers contributed sperm, and each was genetically related to one of the twin boys, they planned to keep the specifics secret.

But when the family took steps to move to Los Angeles, closer to Andrew’s family, they ran into a shocking obstacle at the U.S. Consulate: The dads were forced to undergo DNA testing in order to pursue U.S. citizenship for their boys. Aiden, who is genetically related to Andrew Dvash-Banks, an American citizen, was granted U.S. citizenship; Ethan, who is genetically related to Elan Dvash-Banks, an Israeli citizen, was forced to emigrate on a tourist visa—now expired. Two boys, born just a minute apart, from the same egg donor and surrogate, are viewed very differently by the U.S. government.

As we also reported at that time, “the most concerning thing about the denial of these two babies’ U.S. citizenship is that same-sex parents, even when legally married, are being treated differently than heterosexual married parents.”

Historically, State Department policy, for purposes of immigration and citizenship, has been to presume married heterosexual people are the legal parents of any child born during their union, with no proof of a genetic relationship between parents and child required. But the department treated same-sex married couples and their children via assisted reproduction differently, making citizenship contingent on the child’s biological relationship with a parent who is a citizen.

That discrepancy between how the State Department treated married heterosexual parents and how it treated LGBT parents was the basis of last week’s federal court ruling.

District Judge John F. Walter overturned the State Department’s decision denying citizenship to now 2-year-old Ethan Dvash-Bank’s, ruling that the child has been an American citizen from birth. As the New York Times reported, “the judge ruled that federal law does not require a child born to married parents to prove a biological relationship with both parents.”

The State Department reportedly is reviewing the ruling but did not respond to questions about what it would mean for the policy going forward.

Judge Walter’s decision reaffirms the principle, central to the best and most progressive fertility law, that intended parents—and not egg donors, sperm donors or surrogates—are the legal parents of children born via assisted reproductive technology, from the moment of conception. After all, no one gets pregnant accidentally using assisted reproduction… In fact, were it not for intended parents’ deliberate actions, perseverance and, usually, considerable expenditures, no children would be born via ART.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015, state and federal laws, government rules and regulations have undergone, and continue to undergo, extensive changes to reflect the intent of that decision—everything from elimination of gender-specific terminology to changes in parentage and citizenship requirements for same-sex spouses, all hammered out law by law, case by case. Although this story is about two brothers with gay dads who won the same right to citizenship as their peers who were born to heterosexual parents, this happy ending portends equal treatment under the law for thousands of LGBTQ parents and families.



Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343



New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016



Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.