“Aiden and Ethan look like an ordinary pair of fraternal twin brothers,” writes Dr. Nancy Segal in her newest book, Gay Fathers, Twin Sons. But their story, as told by Segal, is far from ordinary. Their story is one that grabbed global headlines. Their story is one that stands as an inspiration for families who fear being divided.
Aiden and Ethan, now 6 years old, are heteopaternal twins. “Unlike most fraternal twins (and non-twin siblings) who share 50 percent of their genes, on average Aiden and Ethan share only about 25 percent,” explains Segal in her newest book. Genetically equivalent to half-siblings, both boys have the same anonymous egg donor, but not the same father. Both boys were carried by a surrogate in the same pregnancy.
Their unusual story is more than genetics, though. Their story actually begins with their parents, Andrew and Elad. Andrew Banks, a citizen of the United States with dual citizenship in Canada, and Elad Dash, a citizen of Israel, first saw each other in the overseas student office of Tel Aviv University in 2008. They dated for nearly two and a half years, then Andrew finally proposed by attaching an engagement bracelet as a collar around their dog’s neck. Segal interviewed many of their friends and learned that the two men “complete each other.” They were married in Canada in 2010. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was the reason they married outside the United States.
Segal interviewed Andrew and Elad in order to tell their story firsthand. She also checked in with friends and family of the couple, gathering their memories and perspectives on Andrew and Elad’s amazing journey. The story that evolved is one of Andrew and Elad through the years, their struggles of growing up gay, one in the United States and one in Israel, and their efforts to build a life as a married couple, who then became parents of twins.
The story goes on to detail the legal proceedings that ensued when the couple went to the American Consulate in Toronto to apply for U.S. citizenship. A DNA test to determine the paternity of the twins was required, revealing news that Andrew and Elad already knew. Aiden was the biological son to Andrew, and Ethan was the biological son of Elad. That meant Aiden, as the son of a U.S. citizen, would be granted U.S. citizenship, but Ethan, who was the son of an Israeli citizen, would not. The ensuing lawsuit filed by Andrew and Elad nearly reached the U.S. Supreme Court, placing the fathers and their sons in a global spotlight along the way.
“Some names become headline news, but not because of an extraordinary accomplishment or exceptional skill,” Segal writes in the book. “This can happen unexpectedly, when a person’s life events do not align with what the law requires or what society demands.
“Without intention, some individuals leave a lasting mark on legal interpretation, social policy, and/or public awareness, easing the lives of those who come after them. Andrew Dvash-Banks is such a person,” Segal concludes. She also said that Elad’s experience and response to the challenge were equally noteworthy.
“Feeling insulted by the United States when they did not accept his son, Elad, together with Andrew, fought back …He [Elad] refused to take the easy way out, not just for his son Ethan, but for other desperate families who fear being divided.”
Gay Fathers, Twin Sons the Citizenship Case that Captured the World by Dr. Nancy Segal became available August 8. Published by Roman & Littlefield, the book is available through major book retailers.
By Mary Adcock, Multiples of America President
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