A married gay couple are taking legal action against a Trump administration policy that has hindered their baby daughter’s fight for US citizenship.
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 earlier this year.
The couple are both listed on Kessem’s Canadian birth certificate, but the State Department treats the children of same-sex couples as “born out of wedlock,” only recognising her link to biological father Adiel.
The out-of-wedlock status has hindered the application for the birthright citizenship that she would be entitled to if her parents were recognised as a married couple.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of the couple on Thursday (September 12) says 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.”
Trump administration treating gay couple’s family as ‘second-class citizens’
Roee and Adiel Kiviti said: “The focus here is our little girl whose rights are being infringed upon by our government.
“Every parent wants to protect their child, to give them assurances of tomorrow, and this policy isn’t letting us do that. Our daughter will know her story.
“She will know how she came into this world, she will know about all of the loving people who helped us become a family, and she will know how her parents fought for her rights and for the rights of other families.”
The legal action is supported by Immigration Equality and LGBT+ non-profit Lambda Legal.
Aaron C. Morris of Immigration Equality said: “This is a fight for marriage equality. It is a fight for the fundamental right of citizenship.
“By refusing to recognise their rights as a married couple, the State Department is treating Roee and Adiel as second-class citizens and treating Kessem as if she is not a citizen at all.
“The administration has made abundantly clear it will ignore the law and Constitution. We will not stand for it.”
‘Cruel and un-American’ policy denies rights to baby of US citizens
Omar Gonzalez-Pagan of Lambda Legal said: “Kessem was born to two dads. By refusing to recognize Kessem as a US citizen at birth, the Department of State seeks to erase her family ties and to disrespect Roee’s and Adiel’s marriage.
“This is not only unlawful, it is also cruel and un-American.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that same-sex couples are entitled to the same constellation of benefits linked to marriage as different-sex couples.
“The government cannot refuse to recognize Roee’s and Adiel’s marriage, nor Kessem’s citizenship at birth. We will fight for the dignity of all LGBT families.”
Roee and Adiel were both born in Israel. Roee has been a naturalised US citizen since 2001, but Adiel had only lived in the US for four years and ten months when Kessem was born, which is below the five-year requirement for birthright citizenship.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Roee said: “This is about singling out LGBT Americans—this is about telling gay and lesbian parents, ‘OK, you got marriage, but we know that you’re different. We know that you are not like us, and we’re going to treat you differently’.
“Today it’s our family—tomorrow it’s going to be someone else’s family.”
Adiel added: “We have no other choice but to fight for justice for Kessem.”
Another gay couple previously filed a lawsuit over a similar issue.