We previously shared the story of two naturalized U.S. citizens who were embroiled in a legal battle to determine the citizenship of their daughter, Kessem Kiviti, who was born in Canada. When her parents applied for a U.S. passport for her, they were denied. The basis for the denial was that a 2017 U.S. State Department policy required children born abroad to have a biological connection with a U.S. citizen parent. Because her biological father did not become a citizen until 2019, the Trump administration argued that Kessem did not meet the requirements for citizenship.
In June 2020, a federal court ruled that Kessem was a U.S. citizen, however the administration immediately appealed that ruling. In late October, however, the State Department dropped the appeal.
In a statement, Kessem’s fathers Roee and Adiel Kiviti rejoiced for their family, and for all LGBTQ families in the U.S., saying “The law was always clear. We knew it, the courts knew it, and now the State Department knows it too.”
The State Department has also decided not to pursue a federal court’s decision in a similar case involving another married same-sex couple, Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg. The parents were initially denied a U.S. passport for their daughter Simone, who was born via surrogacy in England in 2018. The fathers filed a lawsuit, arguing that Simone should be deemed a citizen because both of her parents are U.S. citizens. The court hearing the legal challenge agreed, ruling in August 2020 that the State Department had violated the law by denying citizenship to Simone. With the recent announcement that this ruling will not be appealed, Simone’s parents can move on with their lives.
For same-sex U.S. citizen parents whose children are born abroad, whether through surrogacy or otherwise, these developments provide some assurances that married same-sex couples will be afforded the same rights as married heterosexual couples, including parental rights for parents without biological ties to their children.
At The Surrogacy Law Center, we are passionate about protecting your rights related to assisted reproduction. Contact us to learn more!