Roee and Adiel Kiviti with baby Kessem and her brother Lev. (Immigration Equality)
A federal judge has told the Trump administration that it must recognise the daughter of a married gay couple as a US citizen.
Married gay couple Roee and Adiel Kiviti, who are both US citizens, ran into trouble with the State Department after welcoming baby Kessem via a surrogate in Canada in 2019.
Although both fathers were listed on their daughter’s Canadian birth certificate, the State Department views the children of same-sex couples as “born out of wedlock” and only recognised her link to biological father Adiel.
The gay couple filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in September, 2019, after it denied their application for a US passport for their daughter.
Their lawsuit was supported by Immigration Equality and LGBT+ non-profit Lambda Legal, and argued that the State Department’s “unjust policies and practices… unconstitutionally disregard the dignity and equality of the marriages of same-sex couples, and unlawfully discriminate against children simply because their married parents are a same-sex couple”.
On Wednesday, June 17, ruled that the State Department must recognise that Kessem has been a US citizen since her birth in Canada last year, as she is the daughter of two married US citizens who lived in America before her birth.
In a statement released by Lambda Legal, Roee and Adiel said: “We are tremendously relieved that the court recognized what we always knew: that our daughter was a U.S. citizen by birth.
“We are proud we taught our little girl to stand up for what’s right even before she could crawl. No child should be denied her rights because her parents are LGBT+, and no family should have to endure the indignity we did.”
However, the State Department policy on the children of same-sex couples as being “born out of wedlock”remains the same.
Immigration Equality executive director Aaron Morris told Time: “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.”
One of the couple’s attorney’s also told the publication that their lawsuit was one of at least five challenging how the State Department applies the rule to same-sex parents.
In February, 2019, a California judge granted US citizenship to the son of a gay married couple, after the same policy was applied, stating that the Immigration and Nationality Act does not require a child to have a biological link to both parents if they were married before the child’s birth.
The State Department is currently appealing this decision.