Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Citizenship & sexism
As I was musing about blog-worthy topics recently, my roommate brought to my attention a case that is up for review before the Supreme Court, Flores-Villar v. United States. This case challenges the United States citizenship regulation that applies to children born oversees to parents where only one person has U.S. citizenship. The following rule shouldn't have surprised me given that stereotypical gender roles are alive and well in this country:
If the U.S.-citizen parent is a woman, the child can obtain U.S. citizenship if the mother has been physically present in the U.S. for 1 year before the child's birth. For U.S.-citizen fathers, however, this period is extended to 5 years!
Is this unconstitutional gender-based discrimination?
I think it is.
This type of regulation is damaging and sexist. It serves to perpetuate the notion that childcare is the responsibility of the mother by assuming that if there is a separation the child will be raised be her. It is also very unfair to fathers and downplays the reality that some parents are single fathers. When the federal public defender raised both of these points, Justice Scalia had this to say:
He asked if it wasn't generally true that with "an illegitimate child, it is much more likely that the woman will end up caring for it than that the father would?"
Wow. That's really helpful. Thank you Justice Scalia for the term "illegitimate child" as well as your adherence to an outdated/oppressive theory on child rearing.
For more information on this case and to read the briefs submitted before the Supreme Court click here.
Is it a reality that women are more likely to to be single parents than fathers so they should recieve more protection under the law? If this is true, is extra protection worth the risk of validating gender stereotypes? What do you think?