Adiel and Roee Kiviti, the married couple that sued the State Department over their child’s citizenship, got an early Father’s Day gift this week. A federal judge ruled in their favor, granting their daughter Kessem full American citizenship, and setting a precedent for other same-sex couples nationwide.
The State Department had initially denied Kessem citizenship, claiming that she was born “out of wedlock.” A surrogate gave birth to the girl in Canada in 2019.
The Kivitis both hold US citizenship, though both immigrated from Israel. Roee became a citizen in 2001, while Adiel received his citizenship in 2019. The couple did not encounter the same resistance upon the birth of their son, who was granted full citizenship at birth.
The State Department denied Kessem citizenship because, though she was genetically the child of Adiel, he had not lived in the US for more than five years–a requirement historically applied only to non-citizen residents.
Ultimately, the judge in the case, Judge Theodore Chuang, rejected the State Department’s argument on the grounds that both Adiel and Roee hold US citizenship and resided within the country, paving the way for Kessem to hold a US passport and citizenship.
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) June 17, 2020
“We are tremendously relieved that the court recognized what we always knew: that our daughter was a US citizen by birth,” Roee and Adiel Kiviti declared in a statement delivered by Lambda Legal.
“After this week’s Supreme Court victory affirming that LGBT people cannot be carved out from laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, today’s victory confirms once again that married same-sex couples cannot be carved-out from laws tied to marriage, as is the Immigration and Nationality Act,” echoed Lambda Legal attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan. “The Immigration and Nationality Act does not distinguish between the marital children of same-sex and different-sex couples. As the court noted, to do so would violate the clear terms of the law and raise grave constitutional concerns.”
The State Department has not yet announced if it plans to appeal the decision.