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'We are family by every definition': Gay dads' baby is denied citizenship

Roee and Adiel Kiviti, a gay couple, are suing the State Department over its refusal to grant citizenship to their baby born via surrogacy in Canada.
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Roee and Adiel Kiviti, a same-sex couple from Maryland, are suing the State Department over its refusal to grant birthright citizenship to their infant daughter, Kessem, who was born via surrogacy in Canada.

The fathers say their daughter is being denied the birthright citizenship she is entitled to as the child of American parents because her parents are a same-sex married couple. The Kiviti family join other same-sex couples in a string of lawsuits accusing the Trump administration of enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act in a way that disenfranchises same-sex parents who use surrogacy abroad.

“Surprisingly, the officer wrote ‘surrogacy’ on our application, and since then, it’s been a chase of us trying to get a reply from the State Department,” Adiel Kiviti said in an appearance Friday on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."

Roee and Adiel Kiviti with their children.
Roee and Adiel Kiviti with their children.Roee and Adiel Kiviti / Immigration Equality

“The problem here is a flawed, discriminatory policy by the State Department that’s being misapplied, and one of the reasons we are confident is that a judge has already ruled in favor of us and similar plaintiffs earlier this year,” Roee Kiviti said.

Indeed, the Kiviti case is not unusual. Immigration Equality, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, is now leading the legal effort for four separate same-sex parented families whose children were denied the birthright citizenship automatically granted to the children of heterosexuals.

“We are a family just as much as your family is yours. We held our daughter first the moment she was born; we were there at her birth,” Roee Kiviti said. “We are family by every definition, and we refuse to let anyone, any government official tell us otherwise.”

Aaron C. Morris, the executive director of Immigration Equality, called the legal cases part of the ongoing fight for marriage equality. Despite the Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015, which legalized same-sex marriage across the U.S., “here we are one more time, fighting the same fight," Morris said.

“No one would even think to ask a different-sex couple, ‘Who made this baby?’” Morris said in Friday's MSNBC interview. He called the government’s position that these children were born “out of wedlock," "absurd.”

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