For readers concerned about LGBTQ rights and the history of U.S. citizenship policies, get the book that Booklist says is "insightful" and "an accessible human story with a happy ending."
The January 2018 headline story in the Los Angeles Times was riveting. Andrew from the United States and Elad Dvash-Banks from Israel married in Canada in 2010 when gay couples could not marry in these countries. The couple conceived fraternal twins, Aiden and Ethan, with a Canadian surrogate by means of egg and sperm donation. The two boys were born just four minutes apart. Aiden was conceived with a donated egg and Andrew's sperm cell, and Ethan was conceived with a donated egg (from the same woman) and Elad's sperm cell.
Andrew and Elad wished to raise their children in the United States, but when they arrived at the American Consulate in Toronto to apply for citizenship, a staff member fired off a series of “shocking” and humiliating questions, and informed the couple of her authority to require a DNA test to determine each parents’ relatedness to each twin—she warned that without these tests neither twin would be granted US citizenship. Andrew and Elad knew which twin each had fathered and had planned on keeping this information confidential. They knew this because DNA analyses had already been performed, but the consulate insisted that these costly tests be repeated using their designated laboratory.
Having no alternative, DNA testing was arranged, and results submitted to the consulate. Soon, two envelopes arrived at their home, bearing both welcome and dreaded news: United States citizenship was offered to Aiden, whose father was a US citizen, but not to Ethan, whose father was Israeli. And, thus, their ground-breaking legal journey began. The couple’s high-profile lawsuit nearly reached the US Supreme Court, capturing worldwide attention along the way.
Nancy Segal brings the story to life through firsthand accounts of each father’s life history and analysis of the legal intricacies that threatened to deny US citizenship to one of their twin sons.
Nancy L. Segal, PhD, is a Psychology Professor, and Director and Founder of the Twin Studies Center at California State University, Fullerton. She has authored over 300 scholarly articles and eight books. Her 2012 book, Born Together-Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study, won the American Psychological Association’s William James Book Award. Her recent work, Deliberately Divided: Inside the Controversial Study of Twins and Triplets Adopted Apart, was the focus of a July 2022 BBC-TV documentary. Her work has been featured in the New York Times and Atlantic Monthly. She has appeared on national and international televised programs, including the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, the Today Show and the BBC. Her latest book is an annotated collection of photographs taken at the Holocaust twins’ 40th anniversary reunion and hearing on Josef Mengele’s war crimes. Segal lives and works in southern California.
Andrew Banks, an American, and Elad Dvash, an Israeli, were married in Canada in 2011. Years later, they became parents to fraternal twin boys, Aidan and Ethan, via a surrogate, with Andrew the biological father of Aidan and Elad of Ethan. Things became difficult when Andrew and Elad decided to move to California and discovered to their horror that Ethan couldn't get a U.S. passport. Thus began four years of legal filings, media exposure, and constant fear that the family would be unable to remain together in the U.S. A renowned psychologist who specializes in twin studies, Segal (Accidental Brothers, 2018) followed the case, and her findings form the substance of this insightful book, which is not without its complexities.… [T]he book is also an accessible human story with a happy ending: Ethan is now a U.S. citizen. Case closed.
While same-sex marriage was still not legally recognized in the US, two men in a committed relationship—one of whom was a US citizen—chose to move from California to Canada to marry and start a family. The Dvash-Banks family soon welcomed twin boys, thanks to an egg donor and a surrogate; one father was biologically related to each child. But when they tried to move back to California, their story took a dark turn: officials claimed the child biologically related to the non-US citizen did not qualify for US citizenship. Segal employs a frame focusing on the twins to relate the successful legal battle waged by the family to secure US citizenship for their son, and includes expansive details about the individuals involved and their life stories. State Department policies have now been revised, paving the way for transmission of citizenship to children of same-sex and opposite-sex couples who similarly use assisted reproductive methods. Later chapters of the book may be of particular interest to those interested in LGBTQ rights and issues of citizenship and naturalization. Recommended. General readers.
This book is both a heart-warming and heart-breaking tale. It’s a story of ordinary people overcoming extraordinary obstacles. You cannot read it without rethinking the fundamental issues underlying family life. Using her great breath of scholarly knowledge (Psychology, Evolution, Child Development, Genetics, etc.) Nancy Segal weaves scientific ideas and personal experiences into a flawless tapestry that affords the reader a profound educational experience.
You would think having twins would be a glorious gift for parents, which it is if you’re heterosexual. If you’re a gay couple it’s another story entirely, one told by the preeminent twins researcher and masterful storyteller Nancy Segal. Gay Fathers, Twin Sons is at once gripping, infuriating, heartbreaking, and uplifting. For all the moral progress we’ve made over the centuries it’s hard to believe same-sex couples still struggle to be treated equally under the law. A brilliant read.
This story highlights the heroics of two men who sacrificed their privacy to make a difference for their children and others to follow. Segal cogently focuses on the terrifying reality that not all families are treated equally under our law. This tale follows the lives of two men and their twin sons as they seek a fair and legal path to U.S. citizenship. As the book progresses, Segal’s treatment of the personal and legal paths that the men traversed makes us consider issues that get to the very bedrock of basic freedoms – who we can love and who we are allowed to nurture.
Gay Fathers, Twin Sons is indeed a book that needed to be written and written so well as only Nancy Segal could! As an immigrant and immigration attorney, I have so much admiration for Andrew and Elad and the courage they demonstrated throughout this incredibly trying battle for equality for their twins. Their bravery and persistence resulted in a categorical change in government policy that has – and will - benefit so many other families in the future. They refused to accept the unjust (and illegal) status quo and I’m grateful that people like them exist to persevere for equal justice for all.
In Gay Fathers, Twin Sons, Segal once again takes a sensitive and insightful approach to addressing topics of considerable societal importance.... Gay Fathers, Twin Sons is a fascinating read, and is highly recommended to those with (or without) an interest in behavioural genetics research.
The book Gay Fathers, Twin Sons is a beautifully written piece of work. It is warm, personal, and presents the Dvash Banks case in great detail. The profound narrative of the book includes the richness of details and vivid descriptions of all the individuals involved in the story while delving into their personalities, values, abilities, life histories and much more. This comprehensive exploration presents these individuals both on a personal level and as an interconnected group, painting a multifaceted picture.
7/13/23, Psychology Today: Author Nancy Segal wrote a piece about the book.
8/8/23, Insider: Author Nancy Segal is interviewed for a feature story about the book.
8/17/23, AirTalk/KPCC Southern California Public Radio: Nancy Segal joined Larry Mantle to discuss the book.
8/17/23, Quillette podcast: Author Nancy Segal is interviewed about the book.
8/23/23, Psychology Today: Author Nancy Segal wrote a piece introducing the book.
9/1/23, The Michael Shermer Show, Nancy Segal discusses the many different types of twins and family arrangements.
10/12/23, Multiples of America: The release of the book is featured.
12/13/23, Orange County Register: Nancy Segal is interviewed for a feature article about the book.