A federal court on Wednesday ordered
the U.S. Department of State to recognize the daughter of a gay
couple as a U.S. citizen.
Roee and Adiel Kiviti, who married in
2013 in California, welcomed their daughter, Kessem Kiviti, in
February 2019 via surrogacy in Canada.
“We are tremendously relieved that
the court recognized what we always knew: that our daughter was a
U.S. citizen by birth,” the couple said. “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.”
The State Department declared that
Kessem was “born out of wedlock” and denied her U.S. citizenship.
Adiel became a citizen in January 2019
after immigrating from Israel. While both fathers are U.S. citizens,
the State Department ignored Roee's status because he does not have a
biological connection to his daughter. The government said that Adiel
had not met a residency requirement of five years.
The Kivitis, who live in Maryland, were
represented by Immigration Equality, Lambda Legal, and pro bono
counsel Morgan Lewis.
“Today, the court rejected the State
Department’s efforts to insert a biology requirement into the law
where none exists and its resulting discriminatory treatment of the
families formed by married same-sex couples.” said Karen Loewy,
senior counsel at Lambda Legal. “As the Supreme Court has made
clear, the Constitution forbids the government from advantaging
different-sex couples over same-sex couples in providing a benefit
related to marriage. This decision is a long-overdue victory for
this family and we hope it brings peace of mind to them and all LGBT
parents in similar situations.”
The case is similar to what happened to
another gay couple from Georgia. Immigration Equality and Lambda
Legal also filed a lawsuit in that case in July 2019.