August 18, 2020 at 12:01 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
State Department appeals ruling recognizing U.S. citizenship of gay couple’s daughter

The State Department has appealed a federal judge’s ruling that said it must recognize the U.S. citizenship of a gay Maryland couple’s daughter who was born in Canada via surrogate.

U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang in June ruled in favor of Roee Kiviti and Adiel Kiviti of Chevy Chase, Md., who legally married in California in 2013. Their daughter, Kessem Kiviti, was born in 2019. The State Department on Aug. 13 appealed Chuang’s decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

Lambda Legal; Immigration Equality and Morgan Lewis, a private law firm, represent the Kivitis. The two advocacy groups also represent Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg, a gay couple from Atlanta who sued the State Department after it refused to recognize the U.S. citizenship of their daughter, Simone Mize-Gregg, who was born in England via surrogate.

The couples maintain their children are U.S. citizenships under Section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that states “a baby born abroad to married parents is a U.S. citizen at birth when both parents are U.S. citizens and one of them has resided in the United States at any point prior to the baby’s birth.”

“It’s sad that we have to continue this legal battle,” said Roee Kiviti in a press release that Lambda Legal issued on Monday.

“Once again, the State Department is refusing to recognize Roee and Adiel’s rights as a married couple,” added Immigration Equality Executive Director Aaron C. Morris. “The government’s attempts to strip Kessem of citizenship are unconstitutional, discriminatory, and morally reprehensible.” 

A State Department spokesperson on Monday declined to comment.

“We decline to comment on pending litigation,” the spokesperson told the Washington Blade in an email.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael //

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