Same-sex couple sues U.S. State Department after daughter denied citizenship

A new lawsuit claims the U.S. State Department denied citizenship to a little girl in Maryland because her dads are gay.

“Instead of like focusing only on our kids, on our newborn, how she eats, how much she sleeps,” said Adiel Kiviti, sitting next to his husband, Roee, Friday evening. “We actually need to invest a lot of resources into fighting our own State Department that is challenging our family.”

To understand how the lawsuit came about, first, some background: the Kiviti’s are married naturalized U.S. citizens, both born in Israel. Their daughter Kessem was born in Canada earlier this year via gestational surrogacy using Adiel’s sperm and a donated egg.

Now, here where things get tricky: normally a child born outside of the U.S. – but to married U.S. citizens – is automatically a citizen themselves. The State Department, however, sees things differently, at least according to the lawsuit, which claims officials are ignoring the Kiviti’s marriage and treating Kessem as if she were born out of wedlock. That means Kessem is subject to more stringent citizenship requirements, which she doesn’t meet.

“We’re not looking for workarounds,” Roee said. “We’re looking for the law to be administered properly.”

It’s a law they are familiar with, having gone through the same process years ago with their almost-three-year-old son Lev, who was also born via gestational surrogacy in Canada and had no problem getting a passport.

“We followed the process the exact same way. It was flawless the first time, we expected it to be flawless the second time,” Roee said. He added that at least three other families are now having the same issue and have also taken their cases to court.

“We have to tell our kids these stories one day, and our hope is that they’ll know we stood up for them, that it’ll make them proud, and it’ll build their character to know that you need to fight for what’s right.”

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.