A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the U.S. State Department must recognize that the daughter of a same-sex couple in Maryland has been a U.S. citizen since her birth in Canada via a surrogate last year, reports The Houston Chronicle.
U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang rejected the Trump administration’s position that the child, Kessem Kiviti, was born out of wedlock because one of her married parents is not her biological parent.
Kessem’s parents, Roee Kiviti and Adiel Kiviti, sued after the State Department denied her application for a U.S. passport.
The fathers say their daughter is being denied the birthright citizenship she is entitled to as the child of American parents because her parents are a same-sex married couple. The Kiviti family join other same-sex couples in a string of lawsuits accusing the Trump administration of enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act in a way that disenfranchises same-sex parents who use surrogacy abroad.
On Wednesday, Judge Chuang ruled that the child was a U.S. citizen at birth, born of married parents who were both U.S. citizens who had resided in the United States before her birth.
An attorney for the Kivitis said their suit is one of at least five cases to challenge how the State Department has applied its policy to same-sex parents.
Immigration Equality executive director Aaron Morris, whose legal advocacy group represents the Kivitis, said other federal courts already have chastised the State Department’s “completely absurd interpretation of the law that disproportionately affects same-sex couples.” Litigating the cases has caused “a lot of pain for these families,” Morris said.
“It’s just really frustrating and cruel that they won’t change this policy, especially when they’ve never articulated a single governmental interest that is served by the policy,” he added.
“We are tremendously relieved that the court recognized what we always knew: that our daughter was a U.S. citizen by birth,” Roee and Adiel Kiviti said in a statement released by Lambda Legal, who also represents the couple in their lawsuit.